Mentoring the moneymakers

Young entrepreneurs, guided by seasoned professionals, present their products in annual competition with 20,000 NIS on the line.

By NADAV ROITER
July 14, 2011 23:45
3 minute read.
THE 4SETO group of young entrepreneurs

THE 4SETO group of young entrepreneurs 311. (photo credit: Courtesy)

 
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An annual competition held on July 18 and hosted by Unistream, a non-profit organization founded in 2001, will showcase products ranging from a unique toilet seat cover to an innovative beach towel.

The Israeli business leadership program for youth offers a developed network of Israeli professionals and entrepreneurs who provide hands-on mentoring in their respective fields.

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The three-year program is geared toward 10- 12th graders and operates out of Unistream’s 11 state-of-the-art centers across the country. The organization’s main goal is to encourage business and social leadership among disadvantaged youths living in the peripheral areas of Israel.

Regional Development Minister Silvan Shalom will be awarding 20,000 NIS at the competition to the young entrepreneurs, who are split into three divisions based on their grade in high school.

Some of the innovative products that will be on display at the annual competition, which is located at Bar-Ilan University’s Wohl Center, include: “Yamba,” a beach towel that is waterproof, has secret zippers for valuables and can even be turned into a knapsack; “Cleaninist,” a personal hygiene kit that fits in your pocket and comes complete with a mini comic book, disinfectant and more, which the Eilat Municipality has already started selling; a unique contraption designed to protect one’s fingers when hammering nails; and a car seat specifically designed for dogs.

“Exposing kids to the secrets of the business world at a young age tremendously enhances their chances for success in any field they choose,” said Rony Zarom, founder of Unistream and CEO of Desima Capital Ventures.

Zarom, who grew up in Israel’s economically depressed Ramle, learned at a young age that hard work and learning from the right mentors can dramatically change one’s path in life.



One of the companies competing in next week’s competition is 4SETO, which was started by youth from Or Yehuda.

“I felt that I wasn’t doing enough meaningful work with my life,” said Liat Varon, an industrial engineer and leader of 4SETO, in explaining how she started volunteering for the organization.

“4SETO operates like any normal company.”

According to Varon, “brainstorming, raising capital, as well as product presentation” are just a few examples of what makes 4SETO like any other business.

The product that Varon’s group of young entrepreneurs conceptualized was the “Nicela” (taken from the words nice and the Hebrew word for toilet, “asla”).

The product is geared toward improving hygiene in public bathrooms and essentially is a toilet seat cover made of toilet paper.

“The students thought about their own personal problems and needs both at home and in school,” recounts Varon, explaining why the group chose this specific product.

4SETO has already started manufacturing the product in China and will start selling in about a month. This young corporation is on the verge of signing a contract with an Israeli company called Smartvend, where Nicela will be sold together with a wet wipe in vending machines nationwide for just one shekel.

“Maybe women would be more inclined to buy this product,” Varon said.

Insisting that the target market includes “students, soldiers and travelers of both genders,” she nostalgically added, “It was an amazing journey seeing these insecure inexperienced children starting to believe in themselves and what they are capable of.”

In light of Unistream’s success, the Regional Development Ministry will invest 6 million NIS to create new Unistream interfaith centers.

“I believe in promoting young people and providing an equal opportunity for all youth. I’m aware of the importance of Unistream’s youth leadership training, which has enabled peripheral youth to integrate into the world of business and succeed,” commented Shalom, who, it should be noted, also began his career at an early age.

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