“Bedouin la-Asakim (Promoting Entrepreneurship in the Bedouin Sector in the Negev)” was developed to encourage self-employment in the Bedouin population, particularly among women. Its main goal is to enable participants to start a business of their own or as an alternative to find salaried employment. The program focuses on areas in which there are opportunities. In 2008, the program focused on three areas: fashion design, physical activity coaching and early childhood care. It has a number of stages: vocational training, empowerment workshops, entrepreneurship course, and personal business support. The program was developed in the framework of Tevet, a partnership between JDC Israel and the government of Israel.
The Myers-JDC-Brookdale Institute conducted an evaluation of the program in its first two years. Data were collected on all program participants and interviews were held with staff members. The study examined the program from several viewpoints, including:
The implementation of courses and training – problems and recommendations for improvement
The extent of employment integration in the first year following the training activities – the rate starting their own businesses and the rate starting salaried jobs
Participant and staff assessments of the program’s contribution to integration into employment.
The findings indicate significant integration into employment. At the same time, the percentage of those turning to self-employment was smaller than expected: twenty percent had started a business, and in total more than half of the participants had worked at one job at least. Most participants continued to work beyond the first year after training.
The findings point to a number of steps to enhance the ability of the program to meet its goals:
Better matching of the level of the courses and their content
Expansion of personal support and coaching
Greater focus on assistance in setting up cottage industries
Creation of a special track for participants interested in salaried employment.
The lessons drawn from the program are serving as a basis for developing similar programs that will be included in the current expansion by the government of programs designed to assist Arab women to integrate into employment.
The study was initiated and funded by TEVET.