Sid Israel

Ashoka Israel

Ashoka started working in Israel about two years ago, when Nir Tsuk, who had been running the International Fellows program at the global office in Washington DC, returned to his native Israel and opened the Israeli office.

Opening an office in Israel wasn’t an obvious move. Since its beginning thirty years ago, Ashoka has been supporting and working with large-scale social entrepreneurs, promoting world-wide systemic social change. Its global renown is based on the Nobel Prizes other honors awarded to its entrepreneurs for working broadly and changing widely. But why did the organization decide to open an office in Tel Aviv before, say, opening one in Beijing?

The answer to this question lies in the special characteristics of Israel which, through its unique cultural and social circumstances, combines many of the core elements that are the most essential for entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial thinking. The principle of Tikkun Olam – actively making the world a better place, or, literally, repairing it, which has a fundamental role in Jewish tradition and thinking and which is deeply integrated into Israeli cultural life, together with the resourcefulness and resilience that has characterized modern Israel’s way of dealing with its many challenges, are among the most important cornerstones of the entrepreneurial attitude. Israel, although modest in size, is rich with women and men who understand the concepts and importance of entrepreneurship and innovation, and, at the same time, possess a sense of social justice and conscience that direct them towards innovating for the public good. Israel’s innovations are now finding their way beyond the country’s borders to many parts of the world.

Since starting to work in Israel, Ashoka Israel has progressed along three routes, according to the main channels of action that the organization follows globally.

 The first is the Fellowship program. Ashoka is the world’s largest network of social entrepreneurs, and after careful and thoughtful examination, the Israeli branch has selected its first three Fellows, all leading practitioners in their fields, and all running initiatives on a world scale or with world-wide potential.

At the same time, the organization has been building its local network of professional supporters for its Fellows from among local and international businesses people and other stakeholders, and also widening its chain of nominators, while constantly on the lookout for appropriate new candidates.

The second route is Ashoka Start (Youth Venture). In the last decade, Ashoka has started working to develop social entrepreneurial skills among children and young adults. Our experience tells us that with the right guidance, young people who receive entrepreneurial stimulation and innovative education are likely to become adults who are effective agents for social change in their communities. Through its youth program, Ashoka, in its first two years in Israel, has provided an opportunity for entrepreneurial development for hundreds of teenagers and young adults; Jews and Arabs, boys and girls, new immigrants and many more. In dozens of cities, towns and villages, young people have had a chance to try out real social entrepreneurship, and discover the changemakers that they really are.

The third route is Kikar Ashoka, globally known as Changemakers. This is an interactive platform and an online means of communication between social entrepreneurs and the wider community, sparked by periodical competitions, and divided into particular issues and fields. Through the competitions, a meeting point is created, allowing entrepreneurs, stakeholders, donors, volunteers and the general public to exchange knowledge and experiences, to join each other’s initiatives, and to make lasting connections. Presently, the Ashoka Israel is working on Israel’s first competition, together with the Ministry of The Environment and the Green Environment Fund, Israel’s’ largest environmental fund.

 While doing all of this, Nir and the staff have also been giving lectures, classes and workshops about social entrepreneurship, and have sat in a number of bodies and think tanks concerned with the civil sector.

 The Israeli office is growing, and is eager to hear about new initiatives, ways of cooperation and partnerships. We would be very happy to hear from you – by phone, email or simply knocking on our door. We invite you to join our great adventure!



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