2014 Annual Jasmine Conference to Promote Women-Owned Businesses: “Women-Owned Businesses as an Economic Driver”
As an organization that chose Diversity and Inclusion as a central theme in human capital management at the Group, Strauss Group operates through partnerships with organizations, social NGO’s and other businesses that team together for the same purpose – leadership for the advancement of diversity and inclusion.
To this end, Strauss Group teamed up with Jasmine several years ago – an organization that works to advance the economic independence of women in Israel. The conference this year focused on women-owned businesses as an economic driver.
The conference addressed the important contribution of this sector to the development of economies in general and particularly to the Israeli economy. It was dedicated to the 450 thousand small and medium-size businesses in Israel, of which 20% are women-owned, and to the actions that should be taken in order to turn them into a strong, important growth driver of the economy. A considerable part of the discussion was devoted to the challenge involved in the inclusion of women-owned businesses in the procurement chain of businesses and governmentbodies.
The conference was held in the presence of the President of Israel, Mr. Reuven Rivlin, who spoke about planting hope in women from an early age, noting that it should be done by educating high school girls and encouraging their conviction that they can reach senior positions and engage in entrepreneurship.
Minister of Economy, Mr. Naftali Bennett, spoke about the great importance and significance of working in view of discrimination against women. Minister Bennett emphasized the advantage of working alongside women, breaking the barriers between Jews and Arabs and between the ultra-Orthodox and secular. In his remarks he said that “It is more important to determine who you establish your business with than it is to shape the nature of this business, which will probably change anyway as things progress.”
Ms. Ofra Strauss, Chairperson of Strauss Group, who serves as Chairperson of Jasmine for 8 years, spoke about the connection between Israel’s democracy and Jasmine organization, which helps small businesses grow into a large diversity. Ms. Strauss emphasized that if small businesses don’t grow, the economy won’t grow and it is clear that big businesses should make sure that small businesses receive wide support.
Ms. Strauss also presented a 2014 snapshot of women-owned small businesses in Israel, where only 20% of 95% small and medium-size businesses are owned by women. According to her, the goal of Jasmine is to grow these businesses, with Strauss proactively and continuously directing part of the company’s procurement toward women-owned small businesses.
Ms. Kiram Baloum, CEO and founder of Jasmine, spoke about opportunities for women and the importance of support in growing businesses.
The conference participants had the privilege of witnessing a particularly moving moment. Ms. Ruth Dayan received The Jasmine Lifetime Achievement Award in the name of Ida Zeidler for her contribution to the advancement of women-owned businesses
Ruth Dayan, who is now 98, was among the first female business-owners in the country (“Maskit”) and remains active to this day when it comes to supporting businesses, bringing Jews and Arabs together and trying to make Israel a better place. First wife of the late Moshe Dayan, Ruth Dayan is the mother of Yael Dayan, Udi Dayan and the late Assi Dayan.
Another guest of honor at the conference was Ms. Catherine Rogers, VP for Global Opportunities at IBM. Ms. Rogers described the changes she hoped would occur within the next decade at IBM and for women in large companies everywhere. She presented figures relating to the roles of women in the economy. While women today constitute 66% of the workforce, they earn only 10% of the wages. She concluded with some inspirational advice for women with a common feature: maintaining optimism, selecting appropriate partners and never forgetting to enjoy the journey.
The conference also included panel discussions with the participation of Mr. Rafik Halabi, Mayor of Daliet El Carmel, Ms. Michal Ansky, gastronomist and owner of the Farmers Market and Ms. Vered Swed, Director General of the Authority for Advancement of the Status of Women in the Prime Minister’s Office.
Other panels were attended by women business-owners that have grown and succeeded. The second part of the conference offered workshops on the following topics: integrating into the supply chain of a large company, the digital business woman and how to obtain credit for a small business.