Israel’s large number of new inventions, technologies and developments—from the cherry tomato to the traffic and navigation app Waze—has helped the country of just 8.5 million become synonymous with Start-Up Nation. However, innovative entrepreneurship in Israel is not just about IPOs and exits. It also serves as a channel for affecting positive change in society and for fostering coexistence among the country’s diverse communities.
As the CEO of PresenTense Israel, a public benefit company, I focus on making entrepreneurship accessible to every sector of Israeli society. Our organization pioneers and runs accelerators and other programs to enable the empowerment of our many and diverse communities. We call it all-inclusive entrepreneurship for making an impact.
After a career in the private sector, which even included touching on global issues, such as the role of women farmers in developing countries, I decided to join PresenTense and become fully engaged in promoting entrepreneurship for social change.
From March 18-20, I, along with three alumni of PresenTense accelerators, had the opportunity to present our message of social responsibility and coexistence to the Greater Boston area. The uniquely different backgrounds of these distinguished alumni, just three of dozens of PresenTense graduates who are making their impact on Israel, underscore what our mission is all about.
Dr. Shady Hassan is a Druze Arab whose start-up, Healthymize, has developed an app that uses voice-monitoring technology to assist people with chronic voice‑affecting diseases. Tomer Shor founded the start-up TuneFork, which develops software that tailors a precise audio filter for users with hearing loss. Michael Nachtiler is an ultra-Orthodox Jew whose nonprofit organization, Aguda Achat, promotes initiatives to help his community adapt to modern Israeli society while maintaining ultra-Orthodox values.
We spent one morning talking to high-school students at Gann Academy, who heard about PresenTense’s mission and how our three alumni leverage what they learned in our accelerators to strengthen themselves and their respective organizations.
We also participated in an open event at the LabCentral shared laboratory space for young biotech and life science companies, in partnership with Pandion Therapeutics, the New England-Israel Business Council and the MISTI MIT-Israel program. Attendees were especially interested in hearing about how PresenTense facilitates coexistence between diverse communities in Israel.
“We can learn from each other and have respect for other communities’ values when we work together,” Aguda Achat’s Nachtiler said.
Dr. Hassan agreed: “Working in a diverse group like my start-up, I thought it would bring controversy, but it hasn’t. We’re working together, and everyone is connected.”
On our visit to Providence, we not only spoke with Brown students, but also met with the Rhode Island-Israel Collaborative. “We talk a lot about Start-Up Nation,” said Consul General of Israel to New England Yehuda Yaakov, who attended both events. “But for a country to be really proud of itself, it has to be inclusive, including economically inclusive, and our delegation represents many sectors in Israel.”
Our team at PresenTense and the alumni from our myriad programs are doing what we can to capitalize on Israel’s start-up culture in order to bring together diverse sectors of Israeli society. We’ve shown that we’re stronger when we work together, and I’m pleased we had the opportunity to spread our message and our mission across the Greater Boston area.
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