About 70 percent of those who set up their own business after participating in a joint Small Business Authority and the Israel Employment Service program for unemployed potential entrepreneurs are happy with their decision, the authority said Monday.
Of the 321 graduates of the program contacted for the survey, 36% had opened a business and another 29% said they intended to. Fully 56% of the new entrepreneurs were women.
"The project is very important since it opens additional paths of occupational mobility for unemployed [people] with business entrepreneurship potential ... The entrepreneurship track is of great importance both during recession periods, when the unemployed have difficulty finding work as employees, and in periods of economic growth, when small- and medium-sized businesses contribute greatly to the [economy's] development," the authority said.
Separately, the Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce said Monday it submitted an overall plan to increase employment to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Finance Minister Avraham Hirchson and Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Eli Yishai, as well as the Knesset finance and economic committees.
Implementing the plan over 2007-2008 would be the "only way" to ensure a reduction in poverty, narrow socioeconomic disparities, better distribute the benefits of economic growth and increase Israel's gross domestic product per capita.
"One of the central goals of the state must be to raise the GDP per capita in terms of purchasing power, from [the current] level of $23,500 per year to an internationally [competitive] level of more than $30,000 per year," said federation president Uriel Lynn. He added that the program would allow the economy to jump from a GDP of around $130 billion today to some $180b.
The federation calls on the government to raise the monthly minimum wage to NIS 4,000 by the end of 2007; cut taxes on minimum wage salary by reducing National Insurance Institute dues and health tax to 1% from 3.5% and canceling mandatory organizational handling fees; instituting more moderate gradation of tax brackets on incomes between NIS 4,170 and NIS 11,140; expand the Mehalev welfare-to-work program; increase investment in education and professional training in the the "periphery" areas; expand benefits provided through the Investment Encouragement Law's employment track and work grants for released soldiers to cover all economic sectors; and freeze hiring in the public sector until 2010.