Nefesh B’Nefesh sets up grants to boost ‘Zionist innovation’
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Nefesh B’Nefesh sets up grants to boost ‘Zionist innovation’

Money available for new immigrants with ‘creative ideas’ in business and social innovation that can impact Israeli society

New immigrants from North America land at Israel's Ben Gurion airport after a Nefesh B'Nefesh chartered flight from New York, July 19, 2016. (Shahar Azran)
New immigrants from North America land at Israel's Ben Gurion airport after a Nefesh B'Nefesh chartered flight from New York, July 19, 2016. (Shahar Azran)

For many new immigrants to Israel, the decision to relocate has both an ideological and an economic component — participation in the Zionist project and attraction to the Jewish state’s growing economy. Now one aliyah-facilitating organization is trying to bring those two elements together in a program designed to give grants and marketing support to entrepreneurial-minded new immigrants.

Nefesh B’Nefesh — an organization dedicated to “revitalizing Aliyah from North America and the UK by removing or minimizing the financial, professional, logistical and social obstacles of Aliyah” — is partnering with Keren Kayemeth Le’Israel and the Avram and Sharon Blumenthal and Family to launch the “Initiative for Zionist Innovation.”

“The Initiative for Zionist Innovation was created in order to empower olim [immigrants to Israel] to take their creative ideas, through social and business innovation, and transform them into reality,” said Nefesh B’Nefesh executive vice president Zev Gershinsky.

“We would like to help and support Olim who are making a difference for themselves, their peers and community in Israel,” he said.

In a statement, Nefesh B’Nefesh said it is “seeking the next generation of leaders and innovators looking to change the face of Zionism and Israel.” In order to be eligible for IZI grants, applicants must have immigrated through Nefesh B’Nefesh with a confirmed relocation date on or before November 30, 2017.

Candidates must present a basic business plan and mission statement in their applications. The project hopes to attract applicants “with a passion for contributing to the Zionist story to pursue their creative ideas in both business and social innovation, thereby impacting and bettering Israel and Israeli society as a whole,” the statement said.

The organization said it is prepared to distribute up to $50,000 for each project selected.

Nefesh B’Nefesh prides itself on providing a strong support network for new Israelis, underlining that 90 percent of its more than 50,000 immigrants have stayed in Israel. It sees the new project as an extension of its mission, the organization said.

“Inspired by early Zionists, coupled with the resources of today, our new initiative hopes to impact Israel’s future,” said Gershinsky.

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