(photo credit: ROBERT GALBRAITH/REUTERS)
The Citi Foundation said Sunday it will invest approximately NIS 1.5 million in PresenTense Israel, a company that encourages social entrepreneurship, business and technology among Israel’s minority sectors.
The grant will go toward funding PresenTense’s flagship programs in Haifa and Jaffa, and additional work in Baka al-Gharbiya outside Haifa.
“Entrepreneurship has the power to advance populations and even generate comprehensive social change,” said PresenTense CEO Guy Spigelman.
The goal of these programs is to break the “start-up nation” out of the “Tel Aviv bubble” and make it more accessible to Israel’s Arab minority.
The grant, Spigelman added, would allow the group to bring dozens of additional Arab entrepreneurs into its programs, and generally promote Israeli-Arab entrepreneurship.
Israeli Arabs tend to have less access to high-quality education, are often geographically isolated from major hi-tech centers and must overcome language and cultural barriers to thrive in Israel’s tech sector.
Organizations such as the Bank of Israel, the World Bank, the IMF and the OECD have all flagged the lower economic status of Israel’s growing minority groups, including Arabs and ultra-Orthodox, as among the most pressing medium to long-term challenges its economy faces.
By 2059, the two groups are projected to comprise more than half the Israeli population.
Among its efforts to boost Arab success in the higher tiers of Israel’s economy, PresenTense in May launched MasarUp, the Council for Entrepreneurship in Arab Society, which set a goal of reaching 500 Arab-led start-ups in five years. It’s continuing with Leap Haifa, which focuses on more advanced companies seeking to expand and secure second rounds of funding.
In Jaffa, PresenTense SUB will aim to connect Jaffa residents with the already-vibrant start-up scene in Tel Aviv.
With the donation, Citibank Israel CEO Neil Corney joins the PresenTense’s board.
“Citi’s mission has always been to enable economic progress and growth and promote diversity,” Corney said.
“As such, I believe that Citi’s support for the talented Arab community together with PresenTense will not only invigorate the Arab community in Israel, but will also help Israel to further gain a leading position in the global tech markets.”