We hear it all the time. “Help Israel’s economy. Buy Israeli products. Buy Israel bonds.”
Where do we as Orange County residents start? How can we help Israelis our age and contribute to the Israeli economy as a whole? There are multiple ways to help, but one way to generate money into Israel’s economy is to become a patron for small Israeli businesses.
According to Stanley Fischer, governor of the Bank of Israel, Israel exports approximately 40 percent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP). This large percentage helps the country run and maintain its economy. Supporting Israel’s young entrepreneurs can be a way to increase aid to Israel from Orange County.
Haaretz.com published an article entitled “No Place for Small Businesses.” The article discussed a survey by The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, an organization that surveys small business success globally. In 2010 “only 5 percent of Israel’s adult population was engaged in newly established enterprise…47th place among 60 countries surveyed.” Like many Americans who finish school, Israelis finish their time in the army and search for an avenue into the workforce; for many, small business may be the answer.
Support for these young professionals with a small businesses vision can help strengthen the Israeli economy. For instance, Lital Anne Alkalay is a graduate of Shenkar College, a fashion and design school. After graduation, she held an internship position at Mirit Weinstock. Taking pride in her work, Alkalay realized that she could have an impact in Israel’s fashion industry with a startup company of her own. Alkalay believes strongly in helping the local Israeli economy and decided to run and maintain her entire business from Israel.
Alkalay’s startup vision, ISIDORA ANNE, was founded in 2009. Her design studio is located in Tel Aviv. Alkalay creates feminine and romantic clothing with a touch of vintage flair, emphasizing details and craftsmanship. Her line consists of dresses, skirts and tops. Her production is kept at a small volume to preserve the uniqueness of the garment. Israeli fashion has taken to ISIDORA ANNE, featuring Alkalay’s line in leading fashion boutiques in major cities in Israel: Jerusalem; Haifa, Tel Aviv, Herzilya. In addition to local boutiques, Alkalay uses e-commerce websites such as Etsy and Marmelada to advance her store. The use of e-commerce enables patrons who would like to support Israeli startups, making Israeli products more accessible to Europeans and Americans.
Because of her strong sense of nationalism and her belief in fair working conditions, Alkalay employed both a seamstress and a pattern maker from Israel. This decision assures that her product helps the Israeli workforce as much as possible. When asked why she feels so strongly about manufacturing in Israel, she stated, “I want to support and promote local industry. I refuse to outsource for cheap labor. Saving money at the cost of having others work in poor conditions is not a way to conduct business.”
In addition to keeping her production in Israel, Alkalay believes strongly in tzedakah, the Jewish concept of giving. Twice a year, ISIDORA ANNE products are donated to various charity organizations. “At the risk of being cliché,” stated Alkalay, “I truly believe that giving is receiving.”
For more information on ISIDORA ANNE, visit www.isidoraanne.com.