Israel Business Forum 2016: Strengthening the Economic Development of the Body of Messiah in Israel

Participants in 2015 Business Forum during a coaching session

Israel Firstfruits Center For Economic Advancement is holding its 4th annual Israel Business Forum at Jerusalem’s boutique Hotel Yehuda on Thursday September 22, 2016 from 08:30-20:30.

The Forum is one of several programs run by Firstfruits (IFC) to strengthen the economic development of the Body of Messiah in Israel. Among IFC’s other programs are a business and entrepreneurship course, an annual business plan competition and a small business loan fund. Excitingly, Firstfruits has also just announced a new joint program between itself and a group of restaurant owners from the internationally renowned Chick-fil-A chain; the program will give young Israeli believers an understanding of practical business management. Mordechai Wiseman, CEO of Firstfruits, affirms: “We want to help the local Body of Messiah flourish economically in such a way as to be a contributory, influential blessing to Israel at large.”

The NIS 350 entrance fee (there is a NIS 100 discount for early registration) includes a business fair and exhibition, networking sessions, keynote speakers, presentations, a commercial law panel, a wonderful lunch, gala dinner and reception and much more. Over 100 local believing entrepreneurs are expected to attend and there should be something for anyone interested in developing a business of any size in Israel. One of the seminars, for instance, will be given by a delegation from Chick-fil-A: “This is a six billion dollar business that, aside from the Godly principles it stands for, takes young people off the streets and equips them to provide exceptional customer service. There is a lot to learn from talking with and listening to representatives of this company,” Mordechai affirms.

James Cohen, partner with law firm Cohen Pex Brosh based in Petah Tikva, central Israel, encourages: “Our firm has been part of the Forum since the beginning and is now a sponsor of it. Believers in Israel are largely considered a marginal group of what has been negatively described as ‘a foreign entity’. We are behind the idea of trying to give Messianic professionals a leg up and help them integrate and impact Israeli society.”

networking6The primary purpose of the Forum is to bring together Israeli entrepreneurs and international investors. The investors tend to be better established and more experienced than the local participants, and can invest not only financially but also provide coaching, encouragement and advice. This year, over 75 investors, advisers and marketplace professionals from around the world are attending – four times the number of international participants registered for the first Forum. In turn, the Forum is a show case for businesses that supporters of Firstfruits have helped to develop.

Mordechai explains that when investors put money into local businesses to help them grow this positively impacts the wider community. “As businesses are developed there is a ‘ripple effect’ whereby many benefit. For example, the believer-owned travel company Sar-El Tours is a great success and provides good employment for many believers as well as non-believers.” Mordechai adds: “We hope God puts a spark between investors and entrepreneurs to build Godly businesses together.”

Confirming the importance of financial investment James says: “The forum provides great opportunities for learning, teaching and networking, and we are greatly encouraged and supportive of this. At the same time we do look forward to seeing more actual financial investments being made in local businesses. This is vital to the development of the believing business community in the Land.”

In regards to the potential for strong relationships between international investors and local entrepreneurs, Evan Liberman, founder of  investment consulting organization Wise Money Israel, reflects: “Many Messianic believers who immigrate to Israel bring new ideas, a zeal for business and motivation to innovate. They work hard to achieve financial independence allowing them to place roots in the land for them and their families. These new immigrants have foreign language and culture which can more easily speak to the Forum’s international investors.” In its support of the Forum, Wise Money Israel is also a sponsor of it.

Evan summarizes: “The Forum is a good place to see what is going on in business among the believers, and meet like-minded people who want to honor God in the various professions and industries in Israel. The Forum provides a business fair and breakout sessions to enlighten us where we can invest. It is a good place to network with other business people and professionals who may help us, stir our thinking, give us ideas and encourage us. It is an opportunity to meet possible business partners, vendors, and clients and see where we can utilize other believer-run businesses to encourage and prosper them.”

Click here to register for the Israel Business Forum 2016 as a local participant. 

Related article: Building the Messianic Business Community