Building Diplomacy: From the Ground Up

“Israel is a strategic partner and a strategic ally,” Tural Karimili from Azerbaijan's Innovation Agency. “Today, 50% of Israel’s oil comes from Azerbaijan."

Our Crowd 2019   (photo credit: ILANIT CHERNICK)
Our Crowd 2019
(photo credit: ILANIT CHERNICK)
Will people with access to innovative technology be able to step in and fill the vacuum left by traditional diplomacy?
For many growing economies, diplomacy is becoming a ground-up phenomenon, and this was made clear to The Jerusalem Post during this year’s OurCrowd global investment summit in Jerusalem on Thursday.
“Israel is a strategic partner and a strategic ally,” said Tural Karimili from Azerbaijan’s Innovation Agency. “Today, 50% of Israel’s oil comes from Azerbaijan, which means that five cars out of 10 are run on Azerbaijani oil.”
“We have economic and historical ties and our mentalities are very similar,” he continued. “There’s a lot of undiscovered talent in Azerbaijan – a lot of people have innovative ideas, which they can produce and deliver, and that’s where Israel comes in. Forums like OurCrowd propel this.”
“With the right cooperation and with Israel as our partners we can commercialize those talents and use it to build our countries even further,” Karimili added.
Asked about how to improve business diplomacy from the bottom up and encourage other forms of diplomacy to develop between the two countries, Karimili said that as a country, they don’t just want to be the buyers.
“We want to be both the sellers and producers – not just the buyers. There are a lot of Israeli products that are in demand in Azerbaijan, which we can produce, and we hope Israeli companies will come to us,” he said, adding that “we’re just a two-hour plane ride away.”
David Mataen, the Africa director for OurCrowd, explained that the crowdfunding platform presents an amazing opportunity for Israeli start-ups to be easily accessible. “It breaks down the barriers so that the rest of the world and, most importantly, third-world countries can access and invest in start-ups and early start-ups.”
Mataen, who is Kenyan, said that what he hoped to see in the next five to 10 years was a complete transformation of Kenya’s society based on Israeli models.
“I hope to see a successful model of homegrown solutions using the concepts of Israel – the Start-Up Nation,” he said. “Ultimately I want to see local businesses and start-ups working alongside Israeli start-ups and companies.
From an educational perspective, “there needs to be a culture of curiosity and exploration, which starts from kindergarten,” Mataen said. “Israel has perfected this and I hope to see Israel and Kenya’s education cooperating and building a curriculum together.”
Krishna Chokhani, who was part of the delegation from India, hoped to see further cooperation between Israel and India in the agricultural, science and healthcare sectors.
He said that while relations with Israel were continuing to strengthen greatly, he hoped that the large gaps in these sectors would close through cooperation with Israel.
“Israel has the technology and India has the resources. If we bridge these gaps, they will start looking like one country instead of two,” he said.
Head of partnerships at OurCrowd Nigeria, Oguche Agudah said that from a business diplomacy perspective, he hoped to see more Israeli investment in Nigerian companies and start-ups.
“I want to see more sharing and exchange of knowledge,” he told the Post. “We want to see a fusion between Israeli technology and Nigerian skills.”
Australia’s Ambassador to Israel Chris Cannan said that ground-up diplomacy, like all diplomacy. is “people to people… but what I’ve noticed are links to Israel, which have significantly grown in the last four to five years. This is widespread, from cultural, to philanthropy and increasing business.”
He said that Australia has a “landing” located in Tel Aviv in which it brings 60 early-stage start-ups to Israel for a bootcamp on how to build stronger and better companies.
“We only have five in the world and Israel is one of them,” he said.
Cannan said that in the next five to 10 years, he hopes to see further cooperation between Israel and Australia in the defense sector; national security, “where we are already seeing significant cooperation”; and in innovation, which includes research and development, life sciences and health, and water technology.
Concluding, Cannan made it clear to the Post that “Australia will continue to be a strong supporter of Israel.”