Israel is nicknamed the “start-up nation” of the world, and for good reason. It has, per capita, more companies on the Nasdaq than any other nation in the world. It also has more annual start-ups than India and Europe combined. However, Israel’s Arab minority, which accounts for 20% of the overall population, has not been traditionally engaged in the entrepreneurial culture. While there are many Arab doctors and pharmacists, we rarely hear of an Arab creating the next Waze or Wix. However, this is finally starting to change. Below are 5 Israeli-Arabs that are breaking stereotypes, paving the way for future Israeli-Arabs to become successful entrepreneurs.
Hossam Haick is a scientist and engineer. Haick was born into a Christian-Arab family in Nazareth. He has an impressive academic record, holding degrees from a number of universities and is a professor of the Israel Institute of Technology. He has earned a wide variety of prestigious awards and grants. His device, Na-Nose, can detect lung cancer from exhaled breath. The device can detect whether or not you have cancer in just 3-4 minutes.
His device has helped many people, saving doctors crucial time – time that they can now use to treat patients. While it is common for Israeli-Arabs to work in the medical field (x number of Israeli-Arabs are doctors and x number of pharmacists are Arabs), Arab entrepreneurship in the medical field is rare. It seems Haick is changing all of this, and he is paving the way for Arab entrepreneurship in the medical field.
Fadi Swidan is an entrepreneur and business consultant, originally from Nazareth. Swidan co-founded “The Hybrid”, which is the most in-depth designed program for start-up businesses founded by Arabs. Its aim is to generate as many contacts and network for them as possible. As a non-profit organisation, it takes no equity from the startups, but rather receives funding from a range of organisations. Over the years it has launched numerous ventures and businesses, receiving a special grant from Israel’s chief scientist.
Hans Shakur is an entrepreneur and businessman. He is from Tel Aviv, founding and co-founding many businesses. His projects range from computer games that aim to bring peace to troubled youth in war zones, such as Games for Peace, to a community platform aimed at fostering innovation in the mobile sector. One of his most successful companies, Markitect, is a digital products company that focuses on the MENA markets.
Hasan Abo-Shally is a web developer and entrepreneur from Herzliyya. Hasan comes from a technology-based background and has founded two companies. He was mentioned on Forbes Israel’s 30 under 30. In 2014, he founded Hasoub, a venture that aims to bring economic and social change to Israel’s Arab community through entrepreneurship and technology.
Most the Israeli-Arabs entering the tech scene are Christians; there is an evident lack of Muslim entrepreneurs and even fewer female Muslim entrepreneurs in Israel. The government of Israel and the people above are of the few that are changing that. It may take a while before Muslim Israelis bridge the gap between their Jewish and Christian counterparts, but the gap seems to be becoming smaller and smaller, and many more Muslim Israelis are entering the field of entrepreneurship. In the coming years, there will be much more Israeli-Arabs entering the hi-tech scene, and there is a good chance that an Israeli-Arab will create the next Waze.