“As we discuss the critical issues of our time it’s also important to remember why we do this… to provide people with a chance to fulfill their own dreams, to live lives in safety and security and to be given the opportunity to fulfill their own God-given potential”.
How many NGO’s find Secretary of State Hillary Clinton referring to them in a press conference [during her recent visit]? Well, Israel’s Supportive Community is one.
Established in 2003 by four women entrepreneurs – immigrants from the Former Soviet Union – these women recognized two important factors; the importance of micro-businesses in creating financial independence and the great difficulty which women and immigrant women in particular face when attempting to integrate financially and socially in mainstream society.
These women created a supportive community for women entrepreneurs who have established or wish to establish micro-businesses. The women who make up this community are immigrants from the Former Soviet Union, Ethiopia and elsewhere; they are Arab women, Jewish women, orthodox women and secular women. They created multi-cultural models to assist all women from various strands of society and diverse cultural backgrounds. Different models are used for each sector, promoting and supporting these women. These women participate in forums and programs teaching them various aspects of managing a business, financially and organizationally. After being accompanied for a while they may even receive a micro-loan, or a smart loan, as they now call it, for now the women know exactly what to do with the money. As the ancient Chinese proverb says: “give the poor man fish, you’ve given him a meal, teach him to fish, and you’ve given him a livelihood”.
The effect this has greatly surpasses the women themselves. It affects their entire family and community, improving both their economic circumstances and their social status. These women pass their knowledge and experience forward, becoming mentors to other women who are undergoing similar difficulties. The community thus grows exponentially with minimal resources.