“I’ve encountered many obstacles in the world of entrepreneurship, for example, accessibility to information. A long-term plan is needed to reach young people – they are the most important part. We need to change their perspective and the discussion. A young person who graduates high school and continues to university, will continue their path to economic stability,” said Mohammed Abdel Rahman, the Northern District Manager for the HMO, Meuhedet, speaking on a panel entitled “Promoting Entrepreneurship and Innovation in Arab Society” that took place as part of the Arab Economic Forum in collaboration with Calcalist and the Ministry of Minority Affairs.
One of the panelists, Ola Baker, CEO of ScienTech – The Galilee Society, said that while there are government programs designated for the Arab sector, there is a need to invest in education and increase school budgets to promote entrepreneurship from a young age. She also mentioned that government programs have helped establish three entrepreneurship centers and two technological accelerators.
Intragel Therapeutics CEO and co-founder Dr. Peter Siman explained that Arab society does not understand that entrepreneurship is a minefield which is challenging, stating, “We need to educate children to think outside the box, and we lack professionals in the business field.”
Mohamed Hibi, a partner at Deloitte, said that the notion that Arab culture and entrepreneurship do not suit is untrue: “There is no cultural mismatch between Arab society and the world of entrepreneurship. No one is born with technological DNA. We need to establish a community of experts from Arab society who can support entrepreneurship in the future, in high-tech, angel investor funds, and the capital market. The local market is small, and we need to think about the global market.”
Founder and General Manage of SK Group Samir Khoury pointed out that “there are political reasons for the state of Arab society in the absence of Jewish-Arab peace. Exposure to ideas and technologies – Arab young people don’t have that, they are not there. In Arab society, there are no economic institutions, banks, and industry, and this is important because that’s where the money and funding sources are. Money in the Arab sector is foreign and does not come from within. This does not mean that entrepreneurship cannot be done; it can be done anywhere.”
Lawyer Eran Yaniv, partner and head of the Hi-Tech, Technology, and Venture Capital department at FBC & Co said, “The talent of Arab entrepreneurs and investors has existed for years, so they are at a high-quality starting point. Nevertheless, we need to deepen their involvement in the Israeli high-tech industry, not only to integrate them but to help build ventures under their leadership. As a society, we need these entrepreneurs to see themselves as an integral part of the Israeli startup nation and create success stories as a model for the younger generation.”
Fadi Swidan, VP Marketing and Business Development at Takwin Investment Fund, said, “The conclusion from this fascinating discussion is that Arab entrepreneurs face a challenge in accessing opportunities in the market, and they should be encouraged from a young age to dream big, take risks, and take action.”