Looking back even a few years ago we could have not imagined that at the close of 2018 we would have moved to a more inclusive community in Israeli society. That women and minorities would be able to compete for the same opportunities as everyone else and that the playing field would be more level. There are several reasons for this (including more open-minded perspectives), but ultimately the number one driver (and equalizer) has been technological innovation.
While there has been a worldwide trend in working to engage people with disabilities, Israel is on the forefront of this trend. As we’ve written in previous articles Israeli entrepreneurs are excellent problem solvers, and work to solve some of the world’s biggest challenges by fixing the problems in front of them at home. Here at Clearview Partners we have a special place in our hearts for those members of society who struggle every day with physical disabilities but still have the inner strength to overcome and live normal lives.
For the scope of this article the elderly will fall under the category of physically disabled. Ageism is still a prevalent form of discrimination, one that every human being will eventually suffer from. While not all elderly are physically disabled (and the definition of elderly is changing with those over 100 years of age being one of the fastest growing demographics) they suffer from discrimination in the workplace. Many of the solutions that are created in order to help disabled people are relevant for the elderly as well.
The programs covered below have the transformational goal of making a significant impact, and while traditionally the Israeli venture scene has associated impact with socially minded non-profits, investors’ mindsets are changing as they see that good technology creates immense value by the lives it changes. Our prediction is that we’ll continue to see a merging of the traditional ethos of philanthropy with the hard-nosed results that venture investing demands.
The definition of a Maker is someone who creates a physical solution out of the limited tools and environment at hand. The types of tools they use are 3-D printers and welding machines, the vision is that they have the ability to be self-sufficient and create their own future. Under this premise the Tikkun Olam Makers work with disabled people to help them find solutions to work around their physical disabilities. In a place where governments and corporations have not been able to assist these people, the Makers fill that gap.
They do this by hosting a Makerthon in a short period of time, usually 72 hours in which they bring the most brilliant people together with those who face the greatest challenges (called Need Knowers) and work non-stop for that period to come up with solutions. This organization (and movement) that was born out of the Israeli impact space less than five years ago has already held hundreds of makerthons in dozens of countries, all while positively impacting millions of people.
The Makers rapidly prototype physical solutions and tweak them until the solutions are good enough, some examples of solutions are a headset that helps a partially blind young boy ride a skateboard and a 3-D printed hand that helps a Haredi boy write. As noted above regarding senior citizens, many are active participants in makerthons and have a focus on extending their economic benefit to society in the workplace.
A3I’s stated goal is “accelerating inclusion in Israel, dedicated to ventures that improve the quality of life for people with disabilities”. They’re the only accelerator of their kind that is leveraging technology in order to successfully address this one-trillion dollar market (that impacts one billion people across the globe). And like other accelerators they have a rigorous process in how they work and scale early stage endeavors. The program’s growth mindset is worlds away from only having an impact on the immediate population in Israel; their audacious vision is of addressing the global market and is worthy of any Silicon Valley startup looking to cause major disruption.
We are still at the budding stages of this movement; as the needs increase with a growing world population the will technology grow in parallel to offer solutions. We’ll also see the investment community become more open to impact and more capital will enter the picture thus changing the investment landscape to provide more opportunities. Join us here at Clearview Partners as we help you make sense of this brave new and changing world.