New fund to help young entrepreneurs

Young entrepreneurs looking to start new businesses can now turn to a new fund for help.

Young entrepreneurs looking to start new businesses can now turn to a new fund for help. Keren Shemesh for the Support of Young Entrepreneurs plans to help create 30 new businesses within four months using an initial investment of NIS 3 million, which is being funded by two family philanthropic organizations - the Geneva-based Safra Foundation and the French Sacta-Rashi Foundation. It is also working in partnership with the Small Business Authority and the Business Development Center (Mati). Keren Shemesh is located in five centers across Israel, from Beersheba and Arad in the south to the Western Galilee in the north. Its focus is on providing financial support and professional advice to potential businessmen aged between 20 and 30 who are "outside the cycle of work." The group will interview the candidates, assess their suitability for running businesses and examine their business ideas. Once it has chosen the entrepreneurs, Keren will help write business plans and finance 75% of the cost of training courses. In cooperation with the Koret Foundation and Bank Otzar Hahayal, the new companies will also receive a non-interest loan of up to NIS 90,000. In addition, the entrepreneurs will be assigned business mentors, with Keren Shemesh recruiting senior business leaders for this purpose. The chief executives of Dor Energy and accounting firm Kesselman Kesselman have already agreed to sit on the selection committees. The director of Keren Shemesh is Hemi Morag, who was the head of personnel and the budget department in the Mossad. He said the fund is basing its operational model on one used by Youth Business International (YBI), which is an international program of The Prince of Wales International Business Leaders Forum. YBI is providing training material and will make its network of contacts available to the new businesses. In the future, Keren Shemesh may also request funding from YBI, Morag said. He stressed that the program is experimental but that if all goes well the backers have pledged to finance the continuation of the program. "The funds said to me, 'Do the pilot, be successful, prepare a business plan according to the results and we will provide the money,'" Morag said.