December 11, 2017, at the Avenue, Airport City
This year’s conference was focused on Diversity and Diversity of the supply chain, as well as the farewell of Jasmine’s president Ms. Ofra Strauss. The event host, Dana Weiss quoted a former president of Israel, Mr. Shimon Peres: “A room without women is a room without future.”
“My vision is that there will not be no seats left in Jasmine’s conferences, because the future is really in our hands.” Ofra Strauss summarizes a decade of joint activity with Jasmine, the director of the organization, Kiram Baloum, and the Jasmine Conference 2017.
More than 500 women from all sectors and from all over the country took part in the Jasmine Conference for the promotion of Women-Owned Businesses. The representatives of leading corporations, Intel, IBM, Osem, Strauss Group, Cisco, Bank Hapoalim, Bank Leumi, Estee Lauder, Menora Mivtachim and others, also participated in the conference. More than 40 leading and influential women, from various industries, took the stage and shared their way to success, their challenges and insights, among them were: Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, Liora Ofer, Yael Almog, MK Meirav Ben Ari, Rojette Hinnawi, Adina Bar Shalom and others.
“Jasmine is the business model that the world should adopt,” said Ofra Strauss in her farewell speech as president of Jasmine in the last decade, “and if the world creates more and more “Jasmines”, our society and our economy will be very different. Just as the Jasmine flower has 200 shades and smells, women are also varied, women are the beautiful face of Israel.”
Minister of Justice, MK Ayelet Shaked, opened the conference. She noted that the gap between women and men in politics is even greater than the gap that exists in the business world. MK Ayelet Shaked is the only woman in the political-security cabinet. However, she notes that in her daily work, she does not feel “alone”. In the Knesset, she is one of 31 women Knesset members and there are three additional women ministers in the government.
The minister mentioned that the Israeli economy is relying on the small businesses. Israel promotes the establishment of a designated stock exchange for small businesses. 21% of small businesses in Israel are female-owned, 20% of directors are women and further activities are underway to encourage the appointment of more women on board of directors in public companies. There are initiatives in the Knesset regarding the legislation of this issue, but the minister prefers to give the market forces a chance and does not prefer forcing regulation in the business sector. The appointments of new board members are often based acquaintance with other members and therefore the female directors must introduce other women to board of directors.
The next speaker, Dr. Alexander Brakel, Head of Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung in Israel, Jasmine’s long-time partner, emphasized in his speech that KAS promotes the concept of a Social Market Economy not only because of the beneficial economic outcome it creates, but especially because of its moral component: The market economy is the best engine to generate welfare and it is an expression of freedom. It allows people to buy what they want, to choose their jobs and start their own businesses. In fact, the entrepreneurial spirit is the driving force behind the market economy. And if we speak of entrepreneurial spirit, we should not think first and foremost about big multinational companies but about courageous people who start their own businesses. The small and medium sized companies are the real backbones of our economies.
The next speaker, Yael Almog, Deputy CEO and Head of Stakeholders Engagement Division at Bank Hapoalim, mentioned that 52% of the bank’s management are women and there is still a long way to go. She believes there is tremendous power in women’s support networks. Almog believes that Jasmine provides a proper expression for women and she is proud to represent Bank Hapoalim at the conference. Bank Hapoalim fosters the cooperation with the third sector and the non-profits and believes that this is a win-win step. The bank has set up a dedicated loan fund for small businesses and for the past five years leads the “The small businesses day”.
Ms. Kiram Baloum, Jasmine’s Director spoke about the goal of Jasmine in promoting real change, the integration of women from different sectors and from different backgrounds, which yields significant results. During the years of its existence, Jasmine helped nearly 8,500 women-owned businesses, with an emphasis on creating partnerships between these women. About 3,000 business partnerships were created during this time. Baloum believes in “progressive women’s leadership that advances women”. She called on senior officials and corporate leaders to “show social and business responsibility, and join Jasmine because there is so much that needs to be done.” She also thanked all of Jasmine’s partners, funders and supporters.
Jasmine’s president, Ms. Ofra Strauss thanked Jasmine for ten years of joint activity. When she met Kiram, they chose to raise the diversity and inclusiveness flag, although it was not yet a popular agenda at the time. She mentioned that thanks to Kiram they were ahead of their time, as the world only just began to deal with these issues. Thanks to Jasmine, Ofra Strauss got to know the country, had a chance to meet women in the north and south, Jewish and Arab women. “Just as the Jasmine flower has 200 shades and smells, women are also varied, women are the beautiful face of Israel.” Strauss mentioned that Kiram has even bigger dreams and thanks to Jasmine activities, she left her comfort zone and met women she would not have met otherwise. Strauss said that the private sector also bears the responsibility to make Israel a better place. Dr. Brakel awarded Ofra Strauss with a certificate of appreciation, for her outstanding contribution to promoting women from all sectors of the Israeli economy.
At the first panel, led by Rabbi Shai Piron, former Minister of Education, he recalled meeting Mr. Michael Strauss, Ofra’s father, who told him how people grow up to be businessmen. Piron spoke about raising children with real abilities and teaching them to work hard. He mentioned that what’s needed today is the “characteristics of femininity” and although he did not get to raise girls, but his duty is to raise feminist boys.
At the same panel, Zika Abzuk, VP Business Development at Cisco, spoke about a technological program that Cisco operates for youth and helps Arab and Haredim young people to penetrate the high-tech sector. Over time, the company realized that this activity also has a business resonance. Cisco also established partnerships in the periphery, offering courses, cooperation and availability of the most advanced technology. “We are preparing the infrastructure for a future business world, and we are creating the need for this technology.”
Mk Meirav Ben Ari, spoke about the legislation which is supposed to touch all sectors equally. She recognized that there is progress towards gender equality, but there is still a need for progressive legislation.
The next session was Ofra Strauss interview with two women, Ms. Adina Bar Shalom, the daughter of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, who established a college for ultra-Orthodox sector and Ms. Rojette Hinnawi, a businesswoman from Jaffa. Ms. Adina Bar Shalom spoke about making the Haredi sector a sector that can contribute to the society. Today, 500,000 people of the Haredi society do not yet fully participate in the economy.
Rojette Hinnawi entered the family business after she was widowed. Today, her sons are second generation to management, and she learns from Ofra Strauss’ experience, how the Strauss family managed the second generation’s integration in the family business. Hinnawi believes the when setting up a business, one should “Listen, look, do and learn from others.”
Another panel was led by Dr. Nava Michael-Tsabari, Strauss, PhD, Director of the Raya Strauss Center for Family Business Research, Coller School of Management, Tel Aviv University. She is the daughter of Raya Strauss, worked in the family business in the past and she has been teaching a course on “Family Businesses” as part of the Lahav program, at Tel Aviv University. Michael-Tsabari spoke about over 90% of small businesses, which are family businesses. More than 50% of the companies traded in the stock market are family owned. Family owned businesses would normally achieve better financial performance, are more solid, and leverage is lower. She compared 200 family-owned companies to 200 non-family companies, and the family owned companies came first in all the parameters examined.
At the end of the series of speeches, the “Ida Seidler Lifetime Achievement Award” was awarded to Gamila Hiar “Grandma Gamila”, Owner of Gamila Secret, Natural Cosmetics roducts. The participants then turned to round-table discussions, for an interactive conversation with inspiring, successful and influential women: Ofra Strauss, G. Yafit, Sandra Rigler, Anna Brody, Heli Maman and Tmira Yardeni, Orna Barbibai and Shai Li Lipa.
At the end of this conference it was impossible to miss the hundreds of women who came out with real value for themselves and for their businesses, numerous insights and many ideas that started to grow and will develop into great deeds.
On behalf of Jasmine, we would like to thank all our partners for their support in the success of the conference for Jewish and Arab Women-Owned Businesses, for their deep faith in Jasmine and its goals, for their contribution to promoting the coexistence between all sectors in Israel.
Watch the movie about Jasmine.
What our partners are saying:
Rena Genn, Director, Israel Office, Greater Miami Jewish Federation.
On December 11th I was invited to the annual Jasmine Conference. This was an enormous event held in a convention center in Airport City. Hundreds attended the event chaired by the President of the Board of Jasmine Ofra Strauss. Guests included the Minister of Justice, Ayelet Shaked, members of Knesset, leaders of the business community in Israel – I sat next to the owner of the Wissotsky Tea Company – and countless women who credit Jasmine for helping them establish and expand their businesses. Please click on to the following link to see and learn more…