Tsofen is a non-profit organization, founded in 2008 by Jewish and Arab hi-tech professionals and economists who aspired to develop the hi-tech sector in the Arab community, both as an economic lever and as a catalyst for shared society in Israel.
Tsofen’s goal for 2019-2021 is to promote a fair representation of Arab society in Israeli hi-tech.
This strategic plan lays out a comprehensive work plan to achieve that goal.
Several key changes affect the landscape within which Tsofen operates:
- The government adopted—and now funds—several of our models and/work areas, primarily: the training and placement of college & university graduates, and hi-tech exposure in high schools, and encouraging hi-tech companies to branch-out/re-locate to the periphery. In addition the government has decided to allocate 25m NIS for the developing of hi-tech parks in two Arab cities.
- Following Tsofen’s successful demonstration of the ‘hidden’ potential of Arab society, and the market need for Arab talent, which grew dramatically over the past years, several other organizations have now created programs that address the economic development in the Arab society, or address minority participation in hi-tech, increasing competition in the area of nurturing human capital and supplying qualified, skilled personnel to the hi-tech industry.
- However, Tsofen remains the only organization that promotes hi-tech job creation in Arab cities, and our model has successfully demonstrated its proof of concept in Nazareth.
These challenges drive the logic behind our strategic plan, informing the need to:
- find a new niche―of unmet needs―in terms of nurturing human capital;
- (re)design programs so as to have a clear(er) value-added component; and
- leverage existing programs towards greater impact.
Based on previous research, the strategy builds on Tsofen’s strengths, and relies on:
- partnerships as a means to pooling resources and increasing impact;
- mainstreaming our work so that it is proactively taken up by stakeholders; and
- serving as a gauging agent, connecting sectors and building ecosystems.
Thus Tsofen’s strategy encompasses three trajectories:
1. Nurturing Human Capital in Arab Society
- Tsofen will start an exposure program for high school students in STEM, Lessons in Hi-Tech, as a new area addressing unmet needs, since this has been identified as the current market failure for qualified human capital; in addition it represents a new market since our ten competitor NGOs work only with Arab college- and university-level students. By 2021 the program will run in 120 schools.
The program will increase the number of Arab college and university students in hi-tech related degree programs―from 14% in 2017 to 20% in 2021―by doubling the number of high school graduates enrolling for these degrees. The program will also increase, from 10% to 30%, the rate of female Arab high school graduates who pursue related degrees.
- Tsofen will take a new approach vis-à-vis its exposure, training, placement and mentoring programs for college and university students and graduates by mainstreaming them into the academic curriculum in universities, as an accredited component of STEM degrees, with the aim of creating a larger and higher quality pool of candidates for the job market, whilst investing less resources in recruitment efforts.
Program KPIs include increasing retention and graduation rates of students by expanding the duration and scope of the mentorship program; and securing companies’ guarantees to hire program graduates by adjusting our training to meet companies’ needs.
Long-term goal: accessing more government programs and budgets for training and placements.
2. Promoting hi-tech in Arab cities
Following our success in Nazareth, Tsofen will replicate its model elsewhere, starting with Kafr Qasim. To that end, Tsofen will work closely with our Public Council to:
- promote and accompany the implementation of the government’s decision (resolution 3780) to create 2 hi-tech parks, including by incentivizing entrepreneurs and companies; and
- attract real-estate entrepreneurs and hi-tech companies to branch out into Arab cities and establish centers in these parks.
Our objective is that construction work should begin in two new hi-tech parks by 2021, attracting 2-3 companies to Kafr Qasim by that time.
Long-term goals: creating a body which will pursue social investment in commercial real estate for new hi-tech centers in Arab cities (similar to the Bridges Fund).
3. Promoting Hi-Tech in the Negev Area
Tsofen will develop a new orientation center in the Negev for training and placement, and devise a work-plan for the area, based on our existing model and strengths, on lessons learned in Nazareth and Kafr Qasim, and adjusted to the needs, challenges and strengths of the local Arab population and the Negev area.
Overall placement objective for all three trajectories: 900 placements by 2021.
Organizational Improvement and Sustainability Plan
Tsofen’s main organizational KPIs have been identified as:
- financial stability;
- institutionalization of Tsofen operations; and
- Improvement of Tsofen’s administrative capacities and HR management.
By 2021, we aim at having increased Tsofen’s budget by 150% (in comparison to 2017), with 50% of the budget from multi-year government grants. At the same time, as we succeed in ‘mainstreaming’ our training and placement programs, Tsofen will begin developing an exit strategy for our services in the area of nurturing human capital.