Greater Push for Social Impact and Accessibility in Israel

Events, July 18 2019

ISRAEL: “If there is an idea in cyber, porn or crypto spaces, millions of dollars by investors are invested in it, but when we are dealing with people with disabilities, we are sent to philanthropy,” said Yoocan CEO, Moshe Gaon, last week at The Marker’s Social Innovation Conference in Jerusalem, Israel.

A male person speaking into a hand-held mike

Yoocan Technologies CEO, Moshe Gaon, speaking at the Innovation Conference last week in Jerusalem. Photo Credit: Olivie Phitusi

The panel was moderated by Meirav Arlosoroff, Senior Journalist at The Marker. The participants of the panel were Ofer Peleg (Vice President of Business Development at Leumitech), Dvora Meiman Pat (Advocate and CEO of Israel Venture Network), and Yoel Cheshin (Chairman and Founder of 2B Angels).

During the panel discussion, Gaon discussed the challenges of social impact within companies located in Israel. “Start-ups who want to establish companies to help people with disabilities do not receive support. You have to change the perception of people that money can be made from this world, and the trick is to put money in the first stage, and not after 10 years when the company succeeds. We are like the Portuguese sailors who went out to the ocean, and we are the first, some of us will not survive, and some of us will succeed and change the world … Anyone who enters the world of start-ups in general needs courage. The world will be followed by dozens of other entrepreneurs, and the beginning of the road is difficult and we have to make a big revolution here.”

Moshe explained how Arik Pinto (CEO at Bank Hapoalim, Israel’s leading bank) suggested that Bank Hapoalim invest in developing the yoocan platform in Hebrew as well. Today we have the ability to establish a large employment base for people with disabilities and we are working on creating awareness of the subject. Our main obstacle is to reach companies that will register in the database. I call here for all the companies in the Israeli economy to participate. We do not ask for money, just cooperation.”

Gaon spoke about the leaders of social impact in Israel: “We are about ten people who talk about this subject in Israel. I feel we are like a traveling band, we are struggling to change the world. Israel is lagging behind in social impact. In Australia, it’s stronger, Europe has 100 times more funds. This is the sad truth: Most of the wealthiest families in Israel contribute to philanthropy, and their personal money will not be invested in start-ups for people with disabilities.

“If we establish a small fund in the early stages that invests in the world of accessible and assistive technology, banks or insurance companies can encourage it as investments. We are not looking for a contribution, we want to create an industry here for a world of accessibility.” Gaon ended the discussion by calling on others to join this movement in social impact and helping to create business opportunities for people with disabilities.

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