Start-Ups find fertile ground in the Negev

Beer Sheva uses Montreal model to retain its youth in the Negev

“I came from Ethiopia when I was one month old. My father and mother worked very hard but earned minimum wage. There was nobody to help me with my homework, because my parents didn’t understand. We had no books at home, no money for school supplies, museums or toys like my friends. I heard about Start Up and they were able to help me. Without their support and guidance, I would never have made it to university.”

The absorption of the Jewish Ethiopian immigrant population into Israeli society has encountered several hardships including social and economic barriers, lack of education, and various other obstacles. These difficulties, together with the lack of communication and social resources, have delayed this community’s integration into the work force and have left a high percentage of immigrants unemployed and trapped in a debilitating cycle of underachievement.

Based on the model in the 90s of ProMontreal which was developed to curtail the outflow of the youth of Jewish Montreal, the concept was adopted as part of a deepening relationship between Montreal and Beer Sheva/Bnei Shimon.

Established 13 years ago, Start Up is Israel’s first empowerment center for young adults ages 18-35. It aims to retain a strong presence of the age cohort in the Beer Sheva region and to encourage those from elsewhere to make the Negev their home by offering a comprehensive approach to development and advancement at decision-making junctures. The Startup Centre is a one-stop-shop which seeks to support the hopes and aspirations of young adults on a very practical level by offering academic guidance, scholarships, career advice, business and leadership development programs.

“When the center in Beer Sheva was established, my sister came for educational counseling, and this was the first time I had heard about the place. After completing my military service, I wanted to continue my studies. I therefore came to the young adults’ center for guidance and counseling. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to study, but the counselors here, based on my abilities and talents, provided me with scholastic guidance.”

  • Approximately 30,000 students study in Beer Sheva every year.
  • Every year, over 6,000 young people are assisted by Start Up’s services.
  • All students in the program are obligated to do 60 hours of community service.
  • Over 100 students have received scholarships in exchange for their active social involvement.

Start-Up is committed to maintaining an active presence in the Beer Sheva community, and continuing to offer services to strengthen the critical southern periphery. Building upon the successes achieved in the 2011-12 program year, the future is bright for Start Up in years to come.

In May of 2011 the new Startup Montreal building in Beer Sheva was inaugurated by Federation CJA. The festive ceremony was attended by the Mayor of Beer Sheva, the Executive Director of the Rashi Foundation, deputy mayors, city Councilors and other officials. A plaque was unveiled, a ribbon was cut and the mezuzah was affixed, after which the state-of-the-art building was declared officially open.

As delegation head Martin Schwartz said during the ceremony: “Today, by inaugurating this new facility, we feel blessed to have made this dream a reality.  We can only wish that this new building, the only one like it in Israel, will bring even more successes and will continue to make sure that all young adults born here or those passing through for their studies, will decide to make this region their home and strengthen the capacity of the Negev from within.”

Click here to see more images.

We welcome your feedback and invite your comments.

Leave a comment

Reader comments are the opinion of the comment writer, not Federation CJA

Comments that make false or unsubstantiated allegations will not be published, nor will comments that contain defamatory, inaccurate, rude, distasteful, disrespectful, abusive, vulgar, hateful, harassing, obscene, profane, sexually oriented or threatening language.

Comments that use hearsay or are based on reports where the supposed fact or quote is not a matter of public knowledge also may not be permitted.

Federation CJA reserves the right to withhold from publication comments that are deemed to be spam or unrelated to the article at which they are posted. Comments that include personal attacks on other people taking part in this website and/or are invasive of another's privacy may also be withheld from publication.

Spelling and grammatical mistakes will not be corrected.