Arabs Seeking to Succeed in Israel's Booming High Tech Indus...

Arabs Seeking to Succeed in Israel's Booming High Tech Industry

January 25, 2016

Integrating Arab citizens into Israel’s thriving hi-tech industry has become a major national priority for closing economic gaps, reaching new markets, and sustaining the sector’s productivity. Both the government of Israel, civil society organizations and the business sector invested significant efforts into increasing employment of Arab professionals in the high-tech sector, bringing high tech companies to Arab localities, and enhancing entrepreneurship among Arabs.

Efforts are bearing fruit, and in recent years Arab representation in the hi-tech industry has seen a substantial increase from .3% to 3%. Yet, barriers to integration into hi-tech for Israel’s 21% Arab citizens remain significant. Several new projects have been launched in recent weeks to address some of these barriers. These projects were initiated by civil society, in collaboration with both government and the private sector:

Athena Fund

Athena Fund, an Israeli nonprofit organization seeking to advance technological capacities of teachers in Israel’s geographical and social periphery, held recently two events in which Touch Screen Tablets and IPads were distributed to Jewish and Arab science teachers and special education teachers. The devices were distributed in the Arab city of Shefaram to dozens of teachers from Northern Israel, and in Ramla and Lod, two cities in central Israel with mixed Jewish and Arab population.

The program was launched in August 2007 under the sponsorship of the Prime Minister's Office and has been implemented as a strategic partnership with the Israeli Ministry of Education, the Fund for Professional Advancement of the Israel Teachers' Union and Bank Massad. Its goal is to provide a laptop computer and up to 120 hours of professional training to each teacher, so teachers are more acquainted with the digital world and can expose their students to advanced technology, help them close educational gaps, make learning materials more accessible, and empower students towards better integration into society.  



UNISTREAM, a nonprofit organization that promotes social change by empowering teens from underprivileged communities to build and run their own startups, has recently won the Chief Scientist Office’s tender for the annual innovative entrepreneurship program that targets teens (13-18 Years Old) nationwide.

Following this, UNISTREAM launched a country-wide program called Start-Up Now that includes 60 groups of teens in dozens of locations, encouraging entrepreneurship among youth. This one-year program targets Arab, Haredi and refugees youth, and includes workshops on introduction to the business world; developing skills such as brainstorming, writing a business plan, raising capital and running feasibility checks; as well as guidance in launching a start-up from planning stage to developing a prototype. The program will also include regular lectures, workshops and professional mentoring by Unistream’s community of volunteers - 2,000 business people and entrepreneurs.

UNISTREAM’s mission is to cultivate business social leadership that will work to close gaps between those in central Israel and those in the periphery and widen scopes of success, tolerance & personal empowerment.


Appleseeds Academy

Appleseeds Academy is an organization devoted to promoting equal opportunities in Israel by closing the 'digital divide' - the gap between communities who have efficient and continuous access to computers and Internet versus those who do not. The organization recently extended its Net@ Program to the Arab towns of Tira, Um El Fahem and Jisser Azarka in collaboration with the Authority for Economic Development of the Arab Sector in the Ministry for Social Equality.

This four-year Net@ Program is designated for youth in 9th to 12th grades, provides teenagers from across Israel’s social and geographic periphery with personal and professional skills to excel in school and the job market. Its curriculum is based on programs developed by leading companies like Cisco and Microsoft.



Presentense, an organization dedicated to expanding Israel’s startup ecosystem by making entrepreneurship open to a broader population, is running a number of innovation incubators in Arab localities, including Nazareth, Hura and Baqa El Gharbiya. Last month, the UK-Israel Tech Club sent a delegation of 10 Arab entrepreneurs to London, 6 of which were Presentense graduates from the Naztech Accelerator in Nazareth and the Q-Start Accelerator in Baqa El Gharbiya.



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