Israel’s Rather Different Social Network

Monday, October 15, 2012

ISTANBUL—One of the more unusual presentations at the Webit conference here was from Israel Venture Network, a 10-year social entrepreneurship network targeting some of Israel’s deprived and excluded citizens, in a talk given by the former tech Chief Executive Isabel Maxwell.

You get a very strong sense of mission from many of the entrepreneurs you talk to, the idea that a key reason for doing what they do is not to get rich (although that is a nice side-effect) but to change the world. IVN is explicit in its aim.

“The point of social entrepreneurship is to drive social change through sound business principles,” said Ms. Maxwell. “If you are going to achieve something, you have to make money.” But as important as making money, she said, is making jobs, not fake jobs propped up by donations, but real jobs grounded in business.

The network has backed science and tech plans as diverse as using waste food to make compost (charge municipalities to collect the waste, sell the compost) to schemes to help Ethiopian immigrants, Druze, Israeli-Arabs and adults with disabilities get jobs in the hi-tech sector, or another one to help attract Arab academics into technology jobs in Israel.

The bulk of its work is not in tech at all, but social programs to help those on the fringes of Israeli society.

Source: Wall Street Journal (link opens in a new window)

impact investing, social enterprise, venture capital