Tor Hamidbar NGO

Tor HaMidbar NGO develops the periphery of Israel through building and guiding mission-driven communities that operate social businesses and initiatives. Tor HaMidbar's vision is that the periphery will become a sphere of innovation and growth.

Location: Beer Sheva , Israel
Year founded: 2006

Description

Tor HaMidbar– Promoting the Periphery through Communities and Entrepreneurship

We believe the best way to make sustainable change is to tackle issues from a socioeconomic perspective, working from within local communities. Our main mission is to settle strong populations in cities in the geographic and social periphery of Israel, to build their families and lives there and engage in their surrounding environment. These young idealist citizens live together as a community, intent on developing new employment opportunities, creating new social solutions, and promoting social change by developing new public services. Social-business entrepreneurship carries economic development and widens the employment opportunities in the periphery while developing new social services. Tor HaMidbar develops and guides social business entrepreneurship in the periphery out of the belief that every initiative, even if it is purely business, should take into account wider considerations of community, sustainability, and social impact in order to succeed.

Our communities and social-business entrepreneurs transform the image of a place from one of deprivation and irrelevance to one of dynamism and hope. They stimulate the economy by creating jobs and income for entrepreneurs and create new solutions for a variety of social problems. By doing so, socially involved communities and social business entrepreneurs rebrand the periphery as innovative, vibrant, and as holding all possibilities.

We believe the best way to engender sustainable change is to tackle issues from a socioeconomic perspective, working from within local communities, combining collective responsibility with empowering entrepreneurs as practical pioneers.

TOR HAMIDBAR OPERATES TWO INCUBATORS TO GUIDE COMMUNITIES AND ENTREPRENEURS: The Community Incubator creates and strengthens socially involved urban communities, combining their future with the future of the periphery. Mission-driven communities are made up of young adults who arrive from their national or military service and represent all sectors of Israeli society. These young leaders choose to settle as a group in underprivileged neighborhoods, base their life on shared core values, and work together to promote a social mission. The community Incubator offers mentoring in building the communities internally and in establishing their social projects. We also offer guidance in developing an economic infrastructure, as well as an organizational, financial, and legal platform.

The Entrepreneurship Incubator for social businesses and initiatives develops entrepreneurship in the periphery and provides crucially-needed infrastructure for its success. Our services include guidance and mentoring for entrepreneurs, providing an organizational, legal, and financial platform, coordinating competitions and accelerator programs for entrepreneurship, and hosting a business hub.

By helping young adults stay or settle in the periphery, Tor HaMidbar propels mission driven communities and social entrepreneurs to threefold impact: (1) Stimulate the economy by creating jobs and income for entrepreneurs (2) Create new solutions for a variety of social problems, such as the high rates of poverty and unemployment and the lack of social services (3) Rebrand the periphery as young, vibrant, and innovative

SUMMARY OF IMPACT  The Community Incubator has built 16 active, self-sustaining communities, and is guiding five youth movements through the process of building communities for their alumni  Approximately 1,300 periphery residents have benefited from communities' social projects  The Entrepreneurship Incubator mentors 50 entrepreneurs and 17 social businesses  Successfully launched 32 social businesses, and counting…  First social business, Café Ringelblum, which provides employment for at-risk youth, has 60 program graduates and a 90% success rate in re-integrating into Israeli mainstream society  NGO has created 200 jobs to-date



Bedouin Women For Themselves - Heritage House

About

Perhaps for the first time in history, Bedouin women are banding together to create an environment where they can thrive. Bedouin women face numerous hardships in both Bedouin and Israeli society and often lack the tools and strength to deal with these challenges. Founded in 2008, Bedouin Women for Themselves (BWFT) is a community of women in Segev Shalom that works to empower themselves and other women to become influential figures in their society, independent of the support and approval of others. BWFT operates a variety of projects aimed at improving public services, creating education programs, expanding parental involvement in schools, creating family oriented recreational activities and more. The Heritage House program provides income for and connects elderly women in Bedouin society with the younger generation through transferring and safeguarding their knowledge and instilling pride in their unique heritage. BWFT also fosters relationships between Bedouin and Jewish Israelis to break stereotypes and create meaningful bonds.

Back to Top

What is the mission and purpose of this program?

Heritage house gives purpose, meaning and income to elderly Bedouin women in Segev Shalom. It elevates the status of the Bedouin female elders, and strengthens ties and mutual respect between the younger generation and the elderly in Bedouin society. The elder women possess knowledge of traditions but often lack skills such as literacy, Hebrew language, and computers. Heritage House preserves and presents Bedouin oral heritage that might otherwise disappear with these aging matriarchs. Finally, Heritage House strengthens coexistence between Israeli Bedouins and Israeli Jews through personal encounters, education, and breaking stereotypes.

Back to Top

Program Description

Heritage House offers tours and workshops to Israeli and international tourists about Bedouin culture. The project serves a dual purpose in connecting young Bedouins with their elders through passing on their traditions as well as promoting coexistence and better understanding between cultures. The project empowers residents of Segev Shalom by transforming their knowledge of Bedouin culture, sustainability and hand crafts into a source of income. Unemployment is high in Segev Shalom and Heritage House offers women an opportunity to share these skills as hosts and teachers. The elders teach these skills both to young women and children within the Bedouin community, as well as to domestic and international tourists through tours and workshops. The traditional skills taught include bead work, cooking over an open fire, weaving, models of sustainability, and more.

Heritage House gives purpose to the older generation of women, many of whom have lost their sense of self since moving to permanent townships. City living requires an entirely different skill set than their previous nomadic existence. Many children who have grown up in Segev Shalom enjoy the benefits of this new style of living and view their grandparents as outdated and archaic. When local teenagers see that tourists from Israel and abroad are paying for the opportunity to come learn from their grandmothers, it reframes the way they view their elders and the traditions they maintain. The young women also serve as translators for visiting tourists, so they are able to join the older generation in safeguarding and preserving their cultural heritage while also earning an income. Through hosting as many groups as possible for tours, workshops, and events, we aspire to form a positive and proactive image of the Negev’s Bedouin community.

Currently these activities take place in a makeshift Bedouin tent next to Bedouin Women for Themselves’ day care center. We host approximately two dozen groups yearly. We have been working with business consultants and have created a strategic plan to expand this project and eventually build a permanent home for the Heritage House that will include a museum for local culture and ample space for workshops. We expect to see a sharp rise in the number of groups we host in fall 2016-2017.

Back to Top

Demonstrated Need

The shift from nomadic life to townships over the past several decades has been traumatic for many Bedouins. As nomads, both men and women had prescribed roles that required specific knowledge. As Bedouins have begun to adjust to city life, elders in society, particularly women, have had their skill sets become obsolete. An astounding 87% of Bedouin women age 60 and over and 70.4% of women aged 50-59 are illiterate.[1] In previous times, women were the keepers of the home and completed complex tasks such as setting up and fixing the tents, sewing clothing, etc. Moving into apartments brought a new set of challenges women were not equipped to fix (i.e. needing to call a plumber, etc). The young generation is eager to take advantage of the new opportunities: learning Hebrew, attending university, and integrating into wider Israeli society. Heritage House gives these matriarchs a platform to share their valuable skills, which can once again be enjoyed by the wider Bedouin and Israeli society.


[1] Interagency task force on Arab Israeli issues June 2014, http://iataskforce.org/sites/default/files/resourc...

Back to Top

Program Accomplishments

-Bedouin Women For Themselves’ founder, Amal Abu Elkum, won the Yaffa London Ya’ari prize for her work in Segev Shalom in 2013. The prize is awarded to female leaders engaged in social activism.

-Instilling confidence and a sense of self-worth in elder participants, both self-reported and demonstrated by a drastic increase in the amount of time spent outside their homes.

-Supplying regular income to 6-10 elderly women.

-Empowering teenagers. Many of the participating teenagers will serve as counselors in BWFT’s summer camp for young children. Before beginning Heritage House program, many of them were not allowed to leave the house themselves. Amal has personally spoken with many sets of parents as well as Sheiks (Bedouin Tribal leaders) to obtain permission for these girls to participate, which has since expanded their ability to attend events in Segev Shalom. This literally changes the reality for the family and introduces these young women to a sense of freedom, encouraging them to expand their worldview and abilities.

Back to Top

How do you measure the success of your program?

We measure the success of Heritage house by several factors:

1. Satisfaction and change experienced by elderly participants. How many women participate? Has their daily life changed since participating? We have seen tremendous success in this aspect, as most of the elderly women had previously rarely left their home, and lacked confidence before participating. They now have a sense of pride, a regular income, and are much more involved in community affairs.

2. The participation rate of young Bedouin women. How many sign up for ongoing classes? How is attendance? We plan to survey the young women once a year (in December) on topics including “do you feel connected to your heritage” and “will you continue the skills learned here at home.” To date we have been successful in strengthening bonds between the older and younger participants. This is evident n other community events when we see the two generations freely and frequently interacting.

3. How many tourist groups come to visit and their reactions to personal encounters with Bedouin women. Feedback after tourist visits has been overwhelmingly positive. Many Israeli tourists had previously never had meaningful interactions with Bedouins before and spoke of the significance of their experience at Heritage House.

4. Growth of the program. According to our business plan, we should reach 100 group sessions in 2017. We are excited to expand our reach to involve additional young and old participants in Segev Shalom, and to additional markets in Israel and abroad.

Back to Top

Bedouin Women For Themselves - Heritage House

About

Perhaps for the first time in history, Bedouin women are banding together to create an environment where they can thrive. Bedouin women face numerous hardships in both Bedouin and Israeli society and often lack the tools and strength to deal with these challenges. Founded in 2008, Bedouin Women for Themselves (BWFT) is a community of women in Segev Shalom that works to empower themselves and other women to become influential figures in their society, independent of the support and approval of others. BWFT operates a variety of projects aimed at improving public services, creating education programs, expanding parental involvement in schools, creating family oriented recreational activities and more. The Heritage House program provides income for and connects elderly women in Bedouin society with the younger generation through transferring and safeguarding their knowledge and instilling pride in their unique heritage. BWFT also fosters relationships between Bedouin and Jewish Israelis to break stereotypes and create meaningful bonds.

Back to Top

What is the mission and purpose of this program?

Heritage house gives purpose, meaning and income to elderly Bedouin women in Segev Shalom. It elevates the status of the Bedouin female elders, and strengthens ties and mutual respect between the younger generation and the elderly in Bedouin society. The elder women possess knowledge of traditions but often lack skills such as literacy, Hebrew language, and computers. Heritage House preserves and presents Bedouin oral heritage that might otherwise disappear with these aging matriarchs. Finally, Heritage House strengthens coexistence between Israeli Bedouins and Israeli Jews through personal encounters, education, and breaking stereotypes.

Back to Top

Program Description

Heritage House offers tours and workshops to Israeli and international tourists about Bedouin culture. The project serves a dual purpose in connecting young Bedouins with their elders through passing on their traditions as well as promoting coexistence and better understanding between cultures. The project empowers residents of Segev Shalom by transforming their knowledge of Bedouin culture, sustainability and hand crafts into a source of income. Unemployment is high in Segev Shalom and Heritage House offers women an opportunity to share these skills as hosts and teachers. The elders teach these skills both to young women and children within the Bedouin community, as well as to domestic and international tourists through tours and workshops. The traditional skills taught include bead work, cooking over an open fire, weaving, models of sustainability, and more.

Heritage House gives purpose to the older generation of women, many of whom have lost their sense of self since moving to permanent townships. City living requires an entirely different skill set than their previous nomadic existence. Many children who have grown up in Segev Shalom enjoy the benefits of this new style of living and view their grandparents as outdated and archaic. When local teenagers see that tourists from Israel and abroad are paying for the opportunity to come learn from their grandmothers, it reframes the way they view their elders and the traditions they maintain. The young women also serve as translators for visiting tourists, so they are able to join the older generation in safeguarding and preserving their cultural heritage while also earning an income. Through hosting as many groups as possible for tours, workshops, and events, we aspire to form a positive and proactive image of the Negev’s Bedouin community.

Currently these activities take place in a makeshift Bedouin tent next to Bedouin Women for Themselves’ day care center. We host approximately two dozen groups yearly. We have been working with business consultants and have created a strategic plan to expand this project and eventually build a permanent home for the Heritage House that will include a museum for local culture and ample space for workshops. We expect to see a sharp rise in the number of groups we host in fall 2016-2017.

Back to Top

Demonstrated Need

The shift from nomadic life to townships over the past several decades has been traumatic for many Bedouins. As nomads, both men and women had prescribed roles that required specific knowledge. As Bedouins have begun to adjust to city life, elders in society, particularly women, have had their skill sets become obsolete. An astounding 87% of Bedouin women age 60 and over and 70.4% of women aged 50-59 are illiterate.[1] In previous times, women were the keepers of the home and completed complex tasks such as setting up and fixing the tents, sewing clothing, etc. Moving into apartments brought a new set of challenges women were not equipped to fix (i.e. needing to call a plumber, etc). The young generation is eager to take advantage of the new opportunities: learning Hebrew, attending university, and integrating into wider Israeli society. Heritage House gives these matriarchs a platform to share their valuable skills, which can once again be enjoyed by the wider Bedouin and Israeli society.


[1] Interagency task force on Arab Israeli issues June 2014, http://iataskforce.org/sites/default/files/resourc...

Back to Top

Program Accomplishments

-Bedouin Women For Themselves’ founder, Amal Abu Elkum, won the Yaffa London Ya’ari prize for her work in Segev Shalom in 2013. The prize is awarded to female leaders engaged in social activism.

-Instilling confidence and a sense of self-worth in elder participants, both self-reported and demonstrated by a drastic increase in the amount of time spent outside their homes.

-Supplying regular income to 6-10 elderly women.

-Empowering teenagers. Many of the participating teenagers will serve as counselors in BWFT’s summer camp for young children. Before beginning Heritage House program, many of them were not allowed to leave the house themselves. Amal has personally spoken with many sets of parents as well as Sheiks (Bedouin Tribal leaders) to obtain permission for these girls to participate, which has since expanded their ability to attend events in Segev Shalom. This literally changes the reality for the family and introduces these young women to a sense of freedom, encouraging them to expand their worldview and abilities.

Back to Top

How do you measure the success of your program?

We measure the success of Heritage house by several factors:

1. Satisfaction and change experienced by elderly participants. How many women participate? Has their daily life changed since participating? We have seen tremendous success in this aspect, as most of the elderly women had previously rarely left their home, and lacked confidence before participating. They now have a sense of pride, a regular income, and are much more involved in community affairs.

2. The participation rate of young Bedouin women. How many sign up for ongoing classes? How is attendance? We plan to survey the young women once a year (in December) on topics including “do you feel connected to your heritage” and “will you continue the skills learned here at home.” To date we have been successful in strengthening bonds between the older and younger participants. This is evident n other community events when we see the two generations freely and frequently interacting.

3. How many tourist groups come to visit and their reactions to personal encounters with Bedouin women. Feedback after tourist visits has been overwhelmingly positive. Many Israeli tourists had previously never had meaningful interactions with Bedouins before and spoke of the significance of their experience at Heritage House.

4. Growth of the program. According to our business plan, we should reach 100 group sessions in 2017. We are excited to expand our reach to involve additional young and old participants in Segev Shalom, and to additional markets in Israel and abroad.

Back to Top

Incubator for Social Business Entrepreneurship - Accelerator Program

About

The Accelerator is an intensive 6-month course in which young entrepreneurs develop the professional knowledge, tools and inspiration they need to establish a social business. The program will address local social challenges in Kiryat Gat, a working-class city in Southern Israel, through defining needs and providing solutions for and by local residents. The program is not merely a training process for entrepreneurs, as it will result in the establishment of new social business initiatives and alternative public services in the region.

Tor HaMidbar works with communities and social business entrepreneurs all over Israel in order to promote a high quality of life in the periphery. Our entrepreneurs work from within communities to promote social change, advance economic development and widen employment opportunities while developing new social services. Our belief is that it is imperative to address local social challenges in order to offer tailored solutions.

Back to Top

What is the mission and purpose of this program?

  1. Provide program participants with the necessary tools from the business and social worlds for establishing their social businesses and a chance to perform meaningful social change.
  2. Retain young social capital in Israel’s periphery: If entrepreneurs open an active business in the city, it deepens their connection and makes them more likely to stay in the region. This will have a ripple effect and motivate other residents to stay as well.
  3. Raise the quality of life of local residents through economic and social development and the establishment of new social services and more employment opportunities.
  4. Improve the image of Kiryat Gat: Rebrand Kiryat Gat as young, vibrant, and innovative, changing people's perception and improving their willingness to visit, live, or invest in the city.

Back to Top

Program Description

The Accelerator is based on Tor HaMidbar's vast experience in the field of mentoring entrepreneurs, NGOs and for-profits in establishing social ventures. The Accelerator is in collaboration with MAOF (the agency for promoting small businesses in Israel) and the JDC Young Adults center in Kiryat Gat.

The Accelerator is based on creating "learning circles", building a community of entrepreneurs by bringing together leading organizations and social-activists in the local community to best identify urgent needs and offer proper solutions. It is an "in the field" translation of Tikkun Olam, mobilizing young populations to utilize their innovative minds and energy to cater to the needs of their community.

The Accelerator is a structured, intensive six-month program that helps budding entrepreneurs define a solution to a social problem, build a business model canvas, examine the financial viability of the enterprise, and develop a business and marketing plan. Participants receive extensive professional mentoring to develop their initiative. The program consists of lectures every other week and individual work on an almost daily basis. Each participant develops an innovative social action project and will be assigned two mentors: one an expert in the project’s field and one with strong community connections to help network and raise funds. Through one-on-one and group meetings, the entrepreneurs learn how to develop ideas and turn them into viable, sustainable projects. The Accelerator also includes an ideation hackathon, modeling, prototyping, and culminates in a celebratory launch night attended by potential investors, municipal and government leaders, and local residents.

Since the entrepreneurs focus on answering needs they themselves feel as residents, the entire wider community will benefit from their success. Examples of initiatives from Tor HaMidbar’s previous Accelerators include: building an Olympic sized pool in Rahat to offer structured swimming lessons to combat the Bedouin community’s high rate of drowning, and opening a ceramics studio in Yerucham that provides needed leisure activities and employment options for youth at risk.

Back to Top

Demonstrated Need

1. There is a strong need to strengthen the local populations of the Kiryat Gat, Harish, and Shafir region.

  • 30% of families in the periphery live in poverty, compared to 13% in more central areas. (Shahaf Foundation Study on Peripheral Areas of israel, 2016)
  • Peripheral communities lack strong local organizations and resources, and many of their brightest and most motivated residents leave for cities in central Israel that have more opportunities.
  • Kiryat Gat residents had been hopeful for change when Intel announced plans to open a factory in there almost 20 years ago. However, residents became disillusioned as Intel brought many workers from either overseas or central Israel. (Globalization's Losers: International Economic Integration and the Politics of Discontent. Yotam Margalit, 2008) The factory failed to share its success locally, demonstrating the great need for organizations to invest in local residents and infrastructure.
  • 2. In Israel as a whole and in the Kiryat Gat region in particular, there is a great need to connect the different population segments with each other. Enduring change can only come through the networking and collaboration of communities, thus we aim to create a pluralistic society by connecting the Negev's diverse populations: immigrants, minorities, students and lower income populations, and nurturing promising entrepreneurs from underserved communities through giving them the tools they need to prosper and succeed.

    3. Peripheral entrepreneurs have different needs than their counterparts in Central Israel. The local ecosystem has a major effect on the challenges entrepreneurs face. Social business entrepreneurs in the periphery need a program that connects them to local forces and organizations.

    Back to Top

    Program Accomplishments

    Many of our longtime staff are themselves social entrepreneurs with successful businesses. It is this personal experience that enables us to understand the unique needs of social entrepreneurs in Israel’s South and to tailor our mentorship accordingly. With the support of the Natan Fund, we recently conducted a study that allowed us to measure the most pressing needs felt by entrepreneurs in the periphery. We learned that Tor HaMidbar is the only organization in the periphery that provides important services such as a financial infrastructure to beginning entrepreneurs, and ongoing mentoring even after a program ends.

    We decided to use our vast experience and opened the Incubator for Social Business Entrepreneurship in 2013. Last week we celebrated the launch night of our 2nd cohort of the Accelerator Program in Be’er Sheva together with our partner, PresenTense Israel. 17 entrepreneurs chosen out of 8o applicants presented 13 new social initiatives to a crowd of almost 400, including Knesset member Itzik Shlomi and other municipal leaders. Six initiatives are already active and we expect an additional 5 to open within the next few months.

    2015-2016 was a year of tremendous growth for our entrepreneurship programs. In addition to the Accelerator, we mentored 10 new entrepreneurs and incorporated 3 to our organizational structure. Six new social businesses were founded, creating 40 jobs. The work space in our hub was rented out at full capacity. We had 875 participants in biweekly workshops, and an additional 700 people benefitted from the success of the entrepreneurs and their social businesses. Our Social Store and iNegev competitions together attracted 350 participants in 2015-2016. They created a huge buzz around innovation in the Negev and make it more inviting for young people to settle in the region.

    Impressed with the influence the Accelerator has had on peripheral communities, the Ministry of Welfare recently approached us to create an Accelerator program for their municipal employees. We are proud that government ministries now consider us a leader in social entrepreneurship support and training.

    Back to Top

    How do you measure the success of your program?

    • Success will be measured through participating businesses reaching individual predetermined benchmarks included in their business plans.
    • We will measure the effectiveness of the program through assessing the number of beneficiaries of the established ventures.
    • We will measure the number of partnerships formed with local forces from all three sectors. For example, municipalities who benefit from civil society’s initiation of innovative projects and modelling new approaches, will begin to integrate our models into their public policy.
    • Tor HaMidbar will become an address for other entrepreneurs who will be inspired to create their own enterprises, as well as other organizations and local authorities who will turn to us for guidance. We expect a 15% increase in the number of individuals turning to us for guidance each year.

    We will measure these variables through:

    • Weekly one-on-one meetings with each entrepreneur that allow us to closely monitor their progress,
    • Intake and final questionnaires for participants and analyze the responses to see how they have grown and benefitted from the program

    This will be the third Accelerator program we have run, and the first time in Kiryat Gat. By these measures, our previous two cohorts of Accelerator programs have been successful with 6 businesses running successfully from the first cohort in 2015; and 6 up and running before the second cohort even finished, and an additional 5 projected to go live in fall 2016. They have already created dozens of jobs.

    Back to Top

    No grants received yet

    ×

    Are you ready to take your giving circle from idea to reality?

    Our Jewish Giving Circle Incubator will help you bring your giving circle to life. Whether you're 23 or 73, interested in social justice or Jewish innovation, and ready to give $50 or $10,000, we want you to join the Incubator. Apply today!

    Applications are open until July 31st.

    Apply Now
    ×