Mercantile Bank General Manager Visits Bizmax


Venture Philanthropy Collaboration to Promote Haredi Entrepreneurship

Mercantile Bank General Manager Joshua Burshtein visited Achim’s Bizmax Jerusalem Hub, where he was duly impressed by Achim Global’s activities to promote the haredi economy. The visit comes following the strategic partnership between Achim Global and Mercantile bank in offering loans to haredi entrepreneurs.

The fund, established by Achim Global President and visionary philanthropist Marc Schimmel, is setting a new standard for haredi entrepreneurs seeking a loan. Achim’s expertise in venture capital, coupled with its commitment to transparency, social responsibility and impact, ensures entrepreneurs have the requisite skills and finances to realize their vision. Entrepreneurs are guided throughout the process of formulating a business and financial plan and securing a bank loan and/or a loan from Achim or other angel investors. In addition to giving loans, Achim functions as a guarantor to the bank, securing the best terms. It also leverages state-sponsored loans.

“Achim’s loan fund is providing haredim with an unprecedented opportunity to succeed,” said Burshtein. “I’m happy that Mercantile’s collaboration in this endeavor will take new businesses forward. For me, this partnership constitutes social financing, in assisting toward the economic development of the haredi sector.”

Take A, an up-and- coming haredi entrepreneur whose high-tech innovation has been selected for a development grant by the Israel Innovation Authority (formerly the Office of the Chief Scientist). Bureaucracy being what it is, the development stage would have been halted were it not for Achim’s loan which has enabled the development process to continue till the grant monies are received.

Or another example: Achim recently trained a group of e-commerce entrepreneurs, recruiting top dealers to teach them the tricks of the trade and serve as personal mentors. Achim also gave each a $15,000 line of credit to begin trading.

“It’s a brilliant model,” says Rabbi Motti Eichler, founder and chairman of Achim Global and its subsidiary human resources organization, Bereishit. “Every dollar is leveraged by the bank to $5 in loans given to the entrepreneur. The money repaid is then lent out again, to help another entrepreneur. That’s venture philanthropy, that’s impact investment.”

Great strides have been made in the last decade to reduce poverty and raise the employment level in the haredi sector. Achim’s founders, Schimmel and Eichler, have been working in economic development in the haredi community since 2005, during which time they established Bereishit as well as haredi work centers in Jerusalem, Bnei Brak, Elad and Ashdod. More than a billion NIS is generated annually in the haredi community as a result of Bereishit having placed over 12,000 haredi men and women in the Israeli workforce. Still, as leading experts on human resources have noted, the world is moving more in the direction of economic growth stemming from entrepreneurship rather than from more jobs in the workforce.

That is what led to the establishment of the Bizmax Jerusalem Hub for haredi entrepreneurs, and more recently the Achim Global fund which has been endorsed by leading venture capitalists and public figures. The goal of Achim’s founders is to develop people, not just jobs, by providing the necessary training and financing. The founders maintain that given the right skills – and the means – entrepreneurs can advance the haredi economy. Not only will this contribute significantly to the economic growth of the community, it will generate lucrative investment and partnership opportunities within the global business sector.

Marc Schimmel, president of Achim Global