“I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great and you will be a blessing” (Genesis 12:2).
Israel, “the startup nation,” has proven that not only can the Lord prosper the Jewish people in their return to His land, but He wants to prosper their businesses and economy as well. Second, only to Silicon Valley in research and development, Israel’s name has become synonymous with progress and innovation. However, imagine taking this miracle one step further! Imagine the power of a union of Believers coming together in business, to share wisdom, fellowship, and fulfill the glory of the Lord’s kingdom on Earth through the Israeli economic marketplace. This is precisely the idea behind Israel First Fruits, which aims to foster entrepreneurial leadership in the Body of Messiah to fulfill its ancient mandate to bless Israel and the nations. They are doing this through business courses, individual consultation, seed-funding and investing in kingdom business models.
CBN’s partnership with First Fruits has been an enduring one, as we have partnered to help support many areas of their vision for young entrepreneurs in the Body. Most recently, CBN co-hosted the Israel Business Forum in Netanya. The event drew in nearly 40 business-minded Believers from the international community and 120 local Israelis. The local believers were able to pitch their ideas for a panel of selected industry professionals and investors, receive small-group and individual consultation with mentors from across the globe in break-out sessions, and compete to win up to 25,000 shekels in the business plan competition. In addition, these global entrepreneurs got the opportunity to explore the Holy Land on a guided tour, enjoy fellowship and worship together, and network among new and esteemed business minds from the Body. The participants had the unique experience of not only touring the country’s many biblical locations of Jesus’ life and ministry, but also visiting incubators and business accelerators in Tel Aviv; reminding the entrepreneurs why they were all there, but also where they could aspire to reach. In all, the event created a much-needed space for believing investors, hopeful startups, and seasoned business gurus to collaborate on both areas of the immediate future of the State of Israel and the eternal value of their business and contribution. Psalm 122:9 calls to those who seek the prosperity of God to maintain their works and intentions for ‘his sake’, and for this very reason, First Fruits and CBN are striving to create a network for eternally-minded business in the Land.
The business plan competition, which was the focal point of the 2-day conference, allowed for 8 entrepreneurs to present their business strategies, 5-minute overview presentation, and projected growth capabilities for their venture. In the words of First Fruit’s CEO, the competition showcased “the diversity of callings and ideas that can be found in the Body”. Business plans ranged from product design, like for a secure electronic locking and tracking courier parcel, to development ventures, like the creation of a tourism-generating bed and breakfast network in Ariel (Judea and Samaria). The many ideas brought before the panel were innovative and distinct. In the end, the first prize winner was a woman from the upper Galilee region who worked as a real estate developer, looking to improve the region’s reputation for high-end tourism. In second and third place were a brother and sister luthier and piano tuning service, a dying craft with unmet demand, and a business to teach school children about sustainable ecology, therapeutic gardening, and edible and medicinal plant cultivation. These entrepreneurs stood out largely because of their personal histories that made them uniquely qualified to operate a business that would not only prosper them personally, but further the advancement and ideals of The Land. 2nd Prize winner – ‘Ronit’s Garden’ was based on her knowledge from her Kibbutz upbringing, and history of tending to agricultural land in Israel, where she discovered the many benefits for youth and people with disabilities.
The whole event was a smashing success, and both investors and entrepreneurs left with new connections for future business and a renewed connection in God’s plan for their future. In the words of one of the panelists, “The goal is really to carry out our work in the marketplace while honoring Christ with our resources […] and our objectives are much greater than dollars and cents. God is in the marketplace, as well as the ministry, and what we are trying to create is ministry in the marketplace.” So help us pray for the prosperity of Israel, God-honoring business-people in the Land, and to help bring the Lord’s presence to the forefront of Israel’s economic future.