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Israel's tech future lies with Arab entrepreneurs

An increasing number of Israeli Arabs are taking the bold step of launching their own startup companies.
A member of an Israeli tech delegation uses his phone in a video call during an evening meeting with Emirati counterparts at a hotel in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Oct. 25, 2020.

The Takwin VC Fund announced March 30 that it was going to raise $80 million to invest in startups founded by Israeli Arab entrepreneurs. It has already raised tens of millions of dollars for this venture. This is the second time that Takwin is embarking on such a mission. Investors include such well-known figures as the chairman of JVP, former Knesset member Erel Margalit, and Chemi Peres, son of the late President Shimon Peres, who is a founding partner in the venture capital fund Pitango.

Although Israeli Arabs make up about 21% of Israel’s total population, it suffers from serious underrepresentation in the high-tech sector. As of today, there are only 7,500 Israeli Arabs working in high-tech, where they make up just 2%-3% of the workforce. When it comes to startups founded by Arab entrepreneurs, the picture is even more dismal. “Of the 10,000 startups in Israel, only about 100 were founded by Arab entrepreneurs,” said Khalil Shawahna, an entrepreneur from the town of Sakhnin. Shawahna was on a panel discussing entrepreneurship and high-tech in the Arab sector, during last month’s second annual conference of the Arab Economic Forum.

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