SHATIL's Forum to Promote Micro-Business Initiatives made a remarkable breakthrough this summer following extensive outreach and advocacy efforts. The SHATIL-coordinated Forum met with the Minister of Social Welfare, Isaac Herzog, who pledged his full backing for SHATIL's recommendations to promote the opportunities of women in micro-enterprises. The meeting, held at the end of July, was organized at the minister's request, and was attended by prominent government officials including Yigal Ben-Shalom, Director General of the Social Security Institute. At the meeting, SHATIL representatives and Forum members presented a comprehensive view of existing policies and findings on ways to improve the status of Israel's women. Minister Herzog has pledged his support as part of a comprehensive plan to assist women break the cycle of poverty.
This achievement was chronicled in newspapers throughout Israel. The following is an excerpt (translated from the original Hebrew) from the Marker, the business and technology supplement to Ha'aretz, published on July 24th.
Minster of Welfare and Social Services, Isaac Herzog has instructed the director of the National Insurance Institute, Dr. Yigal Ben-Shalom, to codify a reasonable grace period for women to continue to receive social benefits when they open small businesses [thereby promoting the business owner's chances of success]. Minister Herzog has set a time limit of one month for this policy to go into effect.
The decision was made following Minister Herzog's meeting on July 22nd with the representatives of Shatil's Forum to Promote Micro-business Initiatives. Herzog emphasized that 'helping women from low income sectors in establishing small businesses incorporates the government's overall plan for dealing with the poverty problem in Israel'
At the meeting, it was agreed that the Forum will submit a draft of a bill to promote small business initiatives for weakened sectors. Minister Herzog will consider the proposal and will discuss its details at the Ministers' Committee for the subject of Welfare and Social Services.
One of the main goals of the Forum is promoting a public and social policy which supports micro-business initiatives, with the intention of encouraging women to open new businesses as an alternative to unemployment, and assisting them in succeeding. According to Forum representatives, research shows that opening micro-businesses assists women in breaking the unemployment cycle and dealing with poverty. In addition, an independent micro-business enables women to earn a living wage, to reach economic independence and gradually to stop being dependant on government social welfare and other benefits.
In recent NIF News, we have reported on SHATIL's post-war Northern Exposure project that assists micro-businesses in the North. The new polices described above will assist affiliate businesses in the North as well as others throughout the country.