Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid presented his party’s small business assistance
program Tuesday, telling the audience at Calcalist’s annual conference that this
sector holds the key to continued economic growth.
“Small businesses are
the largest and fastest-growing sector in the Israeli economy,” Lapid said. They
contribute around half of GDP, but they are an example of a collapsing Israeli
middle class which nobody takes notice of.”
He continued, “Likud is in
love with the large corporations, Labor is in love with large [workers’]
committees, and the small businesses are left neglected. These businesses
account for 55 percent of the labor force, they provide livelihoods for more
families than the workers’ committees and the corporations. They are spread
throughout the country, they hold the periphery on their back, and they are the
best way to fight unemployment and poverty and to solve
Under Yesh Atid’s program, an agency will be set up under
the auspices of the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry, which will rule on
whether businesses are eligible to receive direct guarantees from the state.
According to Lapid, this will force the banks to compete with each other to
attract small businesses, replacing the current situation in which businesses
owners must go “begging to the bank” for credit.
Each business will have
access to consultants, who will assist them in obtaining licenses. Lapid
promised the services would be cheaper and more efficient than those offered by
existing bodies such as the MATI Small Business Development Centers. He said the
first meeting would cost NIS 50, but most consultations would take place over
the Internet or by telephone.
Finally, all business owners who have
received assistance for two years or more will be asked to volunteer as advisers
to the new small businesses who come after them.
Growth will come not
from large corporations or workers’ committees, but from small businesses such
as cosmeticians in Afula, carpenters in Ofakim and start-ups in Rishon Lezion
that are created by graduates of IDF unit 8200, Lapid said.
works as a cosmetician, and she discovers there are none in her neighborhood in
Afula and that she has two friends who are looking for work, then she proposes
opening a cosmetics store. But today there is nobody to help them,” Lapid
“There is nobody to provide her cheap credit, so she needs to
mortgage her house; there is nobody to explain to her how to obtain a business
license, and then she discovers very quickly that it will take her many months
and cost her a lot of money to get past the bureaucracy, so that in the end she
asks herself, ‘What do I need this for?’
“And the moment she says this,
everything stops. The moment she says this, instead of creating another small
engine of growth of the economy, instead of three independent and profitable
women, what do we have? We have a salaried employee at minimum wage and two
unemployed women presenting themselves at the employment bureau. And that is
exactly the difference between an economy in crisis and a growing economy.”