"Haredim are just as creative and imaginative, and as willing to succeed, as are secular Israelis – in fact, from what I have seen among those in the high-tech world, they are even more ambitious. The problem is that they don’t have role models to show them how to navigate the business world and get to the point where they can build their own businesses.”
Above: Itzik Crombie
Racheli Ganot and Itzik Crombie, both haredim, have started an Israeli tech incubator for haredim, The Times of Israel reported.
Of course, almost none of the haredim using it will have served in the IDF or civilian national service or done anything to share the burden of national defense with non-haredi Israelis.
On the other hand, likely most of these handful of haredim will actually end up with paying jobs and most will probably pay taxes. And among Israeli haredim, this is giant improvement:
…“Haredim are just as creative and imaginative, and as willing to succeed, as are secular Israelis – in fact, from what I have seen among those in the high-tech world, they are even more ambitious,” Crombie told The Times of Israel. “The problem is that they don’t have role models to show them how to navigate the business world and get to the point where they can build their own businesses.”
To that end, Crombie, along with venture capital fund Jerusalem Venture Partners, organized the Haredi Hi-Tech Forum, in which ultra-Orthodox businesspeople, industry leaders, and business experts help entrepreneurs in their community to take their tech and business ideas and make them real. With just a few members when it was started in 2012, the Forum has grown to include dozens of start-ups, and Forum members have raised between them over NIS 7 million (nearly $2 million).
The new incubator will open up the tech world for even more ultra-Orthodox entrepreneurs, said Crombie.
Led by Ganot’s RaChip, a Bnei Brak programming firm, and Crombie’s own online business platform iSale, the incubator will, beginning later this year, sponsor several-month programs for entrepreneurs – both male and female, in separate facilities – with programmers, marketers, and other mentors advising them on how to improve their technology, how to approach customers and investors, and how to prepare their product or technology for market.
“The incubator will provide the ecosystem necessary for development of technologies and products, as well as helping members find customers, markets, and funding,” said Crombie.…
“I was a typical Haredi, having finished yeshiva without learning English or the other core subjects” such as math and literature, he related. Crombie worked in rabbinic-related posts for a number of years before he decided to go in a different direction. “I took a course and learned computers, worked in some companies, and eventually went out on my own,” he said.…
“Starting out years ago, I faced numerous cultural and professional difficulties, and managed to succeed despite them,” he said. “I am very aware of the roadblocks that ultra-Orthodox entrepreneurs face, and I believe our program will help them cope with those difficulties, and provide them with the tools they need to succeed.”…
Note these tech business all depend heavily on the Internet and things like smartphones – both of which are banned by haredi rabbis.
But there are exceptions to those bans. It remains to be seen, however, if this tech incubator will be deemed one of them.