Giving ‘Start-Up Nation’ new meaning - analysis

The hi-tech industry advocates for diversity, yet only 9% of Israel’s population is actually included in its narrative.

INVESTING IN diverse communities, many of which include low-income populations, opens us up to untapped talent and resources. Israeli students during a science class at the ORT school in Acre. (photo credit: MOSHE SHAI/FLASH90)
INVESTING IN diverse communities, many of which include low-income populations, opens us up to untapped talent and resources. Israeli students during a science class at the ORT school in Acre.
(photo credit: MOSHE SHAI/FLASH90)
Israel is perceived worldwide as the Start-Up Nation. But what does that actually mean? Who is included in its economically flourishing activities?
The hi-tech industry advocates for diversity, yet only 9% of Israel’s population is actually included in its narrative, of whom a mere 27% are women, 1.4% are from the Arab community, and 0.4% are from the ultra-Orthodox community. While Tel Aviv is ranked seventh among the world’s start-up ecosystems, Israel is rated poorest among the OECD countries.
Advocating for minorities is crucial for strengthening our economy and will result in a just and robust society. Investing in diverse communities, many of which include low-income populations, opens us up to untapped talent and resources.
Their needs and ideas could change the way we engage in technology, business and other entrepreneurial ecosystems, and would inevitably create progress for our country for the betterment of all.
Especially during these times of growing unemployment and increasing income gaps, we are witnessing entrepreneurship’s power to reduce socioeconomic disparities and promote inclusion, while bridging the gaps between the diverse communities in Israel. Entrepreneurship is the 21st century’s superpower that enables individuals and communities to take part in exponential economic growth.
Socially marginalized communities in Israel are beginning to delve into the complex matter of entrepreneurship through educational programs and business accelerators, around such topics as technology, business and social change. Growing into an equal and inclusive environment, the Israeli workplace would become a safe and secure space for everyone, regardless of economic status, race or religion.
Studies have shown that diversity and inclusion are major contributors to innovative thinking and productivity. Bringing inclusion into the workforce will empower the economy, raising Israel to a new level, and giving the term “Start-Up Nation” a new meaning with new power.
We need diversity and inclusion now more than ever. With the COVID-19 pandemic still raging, industries are in desperate need of new ideas, new leaders and new opportunities. Innovators are awaiting their time to shine, especially at this paradoxical time of rapid change while the world is at a standstill. The values of social justice and a shared society should underlie the activities of all start-ups, helping them reach out to broader audiences and expand their social impact.
It’s clear that the economy and society of Israel can further thrive with more organizations such as PresenTense, which strives for an inclusive and equal Start-Up Nation.
The only way to expand is to include. So what are we waiting for?

Ariella Rosen and Khouloud Ayuti are co-CEOs of PresenTense, an Israel based non-profit organization dedicated to promoting an inclusive society in which diverse communities are equally represented in the Israeli entrepreneurial ecosystem.