By: Shikma Tavor
“I’m a woman, an Arab, an Israeli and I am successful one,” I hear her say, and cannot help but think about all the well-known clichés. Is this science fiction? An epic victory against all odds? A deep conversation with Kiram makes it clear to me that this is not the case, that it’s completely possible in a reality of a woman who creates the life experience she wants to live. Life according to Kiram Baloum.
In order to have a phone conversation with Kiram, with no interruptions, first you have to schedule with Sigal, the wonderful secretary of Jasmine organization. And believe me, it’s not easy at all to schedule a call with this busy woman. When the time came for this interview, on the other side of the line I discovered an interesting, fluent and witty woman. From a few single sentences in Hebrew with a soft Arabic accent, one could understand that he is talking with a role model, even a figure of admiration.
How did it all began?
Kiram, who was born in Taibe, completed her bachelor’s degree in Middle Eastern studies, at Bar-Ilan University, and a master’s degree in Economics and Business administration from Tel Aviv University. She has one big dream: to start her own business. In the meantime, until her dream becomes a reality, she is busy changing the world. Well, changing our small part of the world, the perception of women in the Israeli economy. No wonder that Kiram was declared one of the most influential women in the economy, at the top of the list of women who make Israel a better place.
Jasmine, the organization headed by Kiram, serves two main issues: The first, and most prominent, is the uncompromising belief in women’s capabilities and strength in driving the growth of the Israeli economy. Jasmine promotes the businesses and professional development of women from all levels – businesswomen who lead independent businesses, businesswomen who lead family businesses, women who manage mid-sized businesses and women occupying key positions in corporations and large companies. By 2017, Jasmine was able to support and assist eight thousand businesswomen, both from the Jewish and Arab sectors, to realize their aspirations.
The second issue where Jasmine is trying to make a real change is the social sphere, communication, networking and cooperation, businesswise, professional and other, between all the different sectors of the Israeli society.
Kiram dreams of strong Jasmine, and that leads her activities like a bright lighthouse: influential and significant organization in Israel, with active branches throughout the world, including, of course, the Arab countries, an established platform, involved in everything related to women owned businesses.
Founding Jasmine cannot be taken for granted. Having taken two years and hundreds of interviews with women to understand their needs, Kiram Baloum founded Jasmine to help women overcome the obstacles they face in developing thriving businesses. It is no coincidence that Jasmine helps women from all sectors. “Our goal,” says Kiram, “is to create good that is shared by all of us, to contribute to the country’s economy, to security and live in peace.” In 2016, Jasmine was awarded the Israeli Parliament (Knesset) Speakers` “Quality of Life Prize” and in the coming year Kiram hopes to see Jasmine continue to promote women in two flagship projects:
WESOURCE – a venture that was born in response to the demand of the purchasing departments of corporations, to provide an opportunity for diverse businesses to be part of the supply chain of large corporations.
“Izun” (Balance) Forum – Training successful business owners with management experience, to serve on board of directors of public corporations and non-governmental organizations.
I’m debating with myself on how to present my next question to Kiram, and I am trying not to be biased by prejudices. I cannot stop myself, and apologetically, I ask her about the home and the family she grew up in, how the family and the environment accepted her groundbreaking occupation. I can “hear her smiling” on the phone, and she answers my question with the patience of a woman who knows exactly who she is and how she affects others:
“I am a secular Muslim, I grew up in a home surrounded with love and support, focused on obtaining education, encouraged to develop individual thinking and independence from an early age, especially by my father. From a very young age I managed a company branch with fifteen employees and in three years I achieved great business success. It was a challenging role that turned my world around, both in the society surrounding me and in my private life. ”
If women really want it they can do it
While I listen to Kiram attentively, a single question in my mind pushes me to unlock the secret that drives her, supplies her with the energies to continue and prevents from the obstacles around her to thwarting her plans.
What motivates you?
“I believe,” she says, “that if women really want something – there is no power in the world that can stop them from achieving the goal they set, my dreams and my beliefs drive me forward and the knowledge that real change begins with us, the women. I believe that if we all want it and will change the way we teach the world to treat us – we can succeed in everything. I believe in the power of women to lead a significant change, but at the same time to preserve our home and our uniqueness, which distinguishes our way of thinking from the masculine way … I believe that we are capable of creating and strengthening co-existence and gender-just economy. Women who act are women who can make a difference for the rest of us, for the benefit of everyone – regardless of religion, race, age, gender or perceptions, anywhere in the world. ”
If you wish to read more about Kiram, please visit: SUCCESSFUL WOMEN OF ISRAEL