Kiram Baloum, CEO of Jasmine organization, shares with us the challenges facing women-owners of small and medium businesses. How difficult it is to be independent, self-employed women in Israel and is there any solution to the problems? How does it all relate to coexistence? Her answers in the following post.
Entering a vacuum Let’s start with numbers. There are 480,000 businesses in Israel, of which 370,000 are small businesses with approximately 70,000 owned by women. It is estimated that over 14% of all businesses in Israel are owned by women. The reality they live in is saturated with difficulties and obstacles that make their business management problematic and far from simple. Women-owners of small and medium businesses, Jewish as well as Arab, encounter resistance on cultural and traditional grounds, and face difficulties resulting from a lack of training, lack of access to business networking and financial resources, fear of discrimination, geographical barriers and absence of a supporting infrastructure. They need guidance, assistance and a body that can help them leverage their business in order to become a significant part of the workforce in Israel. Jasmine has identified the main obstacles facing a woman business-owner that make it difficult for her to achieve economic security and utilize opportunities to grow her business. Jasmine has found that women from different sectors of the population often share the same difficulties in business ownership and finding gainful employment. With this understanding we made it our goal to help the economic advancement of women business-owners from all sectors, religions and classes in Israel, nurture and empower their economic and professional development and help them expand and enhance their businesses so they can become a significant part of the workforce in Israel and increase their positive impact on the Israeli economy. How do we do it? In view of the challenges I mentioned, we help women by providing them with tools and knowledge in the areas of economic leadership, creating equal business opportunities for women, connecting them to financial resources in order to develop and expand their businesses, and just as important – creating business networking among businesses in general and particularly women-owned businesses. We believe that this is doable by steering an economic and social change and promoting coexistence between Jews and Arabs through equal economic opportunities to women from all sectors in Israel. Jasmine is unique in that it designs its programs around the needs and barriers shared by women business-owners across the populastion. Jasmine has built a network of support and economic collaboration among women from all Israeli sectors, modeling co-existence. Jasmine pays special attention to the cultural, social and economic challenges that women are faced with when promoting their own businesses. On top of that, it is important for us to promote and raise awareness to the inclusion of women-owned businesses in the supply chain of large organizations, thus advancing the status of women in Israel and strengthening the Israeli economy and society. To this end we are currently launching a global program in Israel entitled WEConnect International. This venture welcomes 51% and up women-owned and managed businesses, that will receive exposure to an Israeli and global network of large businesses seeking to diversify their procurement system and open their tenders to women-owned businesses. I believe that only in a world where a truly equal opportunity for success is given to small businesses in general and particularly to women-owned businesses, and through growth and integration in the supply chain of large companies, we will live in a more egalitarian environment in which the number of employed women grows and we all benefit from a prosperous and fair economy. Are you a female-owner of a small or medium business? I invite you to attend the 2014 Annual Jasmine Conference on the subject of Women-Owned Businesses as an Economic Growth Driver, in the presence of Economy Minister Naftali Bennett and with the participation of senior representatives from the business sector in Israel and abroad. The conference will be held on Monday 15.12.2014 near Tel Aviv. For full program and registration please see here. * First published on Saloona website