When we think of a business, we think of profit. Businesses, in the traditional sense, are established to sell a product or offer a service with the end goal of earning money. Social businesses, though, offer a unique twist — they are businesses whose goal is not profit, but social change, and whose earnings are reinvested into the business itself. Across the world, social businesses are taking off. And in Israel, where so many social issues desperately need attention, JDC-TEVET has established a new pathway for those interested in founding their own social business for the betterment of the country.
Unlike charities, which rely on donations to operate and work towards their cause, social businesses address a social problem while completely self-sustainable. But unlike a traditional business, those leading social businesses often lack the business experience or access to credit. This leaves social businesses in a complicated position — one that JDC-TEVET aims to remedy.
To strengthen and mutliply the social businesses in Israel, JDC-TEVET is piloting two initiatives — one to introduce social business elements to existing companies, and one to train government-certified business advisors and consultants to mentor new social businesses and develop practical business plans.
Much of these efforts are being focused in Israel’s southern periphery. This is a region of the country that has long suffered disproportionate poverty due to lack of public transportation, infrastructure and distance to employment centers — and recent conflicts with Gaza have only exacerbated these communities’ struggles. Regular rocket fire has crippled local businesses, stifling the region’s economy. There’s no region in Israel more in need of both the economic boost of new businesses and the communal impact of social businesses.
To date, JDC-TEVET has provided mentorship and guidance to nearly 20 social businesses, creating a growing knowledge base for the future. In other words, the more social businesses there are now, the more can blossom in the future.