top of page
Heroine initiative.png

Entrepreneurial challenges

International Women's Day 2020


Hello to you and Namaste,

International Women's Day is celebrated in March.

Between elections and Corona, many events were canceled or postponed.

And yet, just before the end of the month, we asked some leading female entrepreneurs to share with us their entrepreneurial challenges.

We also published a fascinating review regarding the field of 'FemTech' - technologies to improve women's well-being and health 

We wish everyone good health and quiet and good days,


Michal Levy-Medina

CEO of the Global Entrepreneurship Network - Israel


And what do we do?


Every year, in the third week of November, 10 million women and men gather around the world to dream entrepreneurship, talk entrepreneurship, and practice entrepreneurship. For the past four years, we have opened Entrepreneurship Week with a meeting with a young crowd that takes place at the Stock Exchange (the "pressing the button" to open trading also symbolizes the beginning of the Entrepreneurship Week events).

In the last two years, we have added additional layers to this meeting, where in the last part there is a discussion of the challenges of entrepreneurship, with on stage successful women who come from "there": from the entrepreneurial activity.

The women on stage are very impressive, with a history of leadership and success. We believe that the message that gets through is a message of strength, and has significance in changing gender-biased attitudes.

In November we held such a meeting with women from the core of entrepreneurship, so that they would share with us their insights regarding the challenges of entrepreneurship.

We asked them for further reference now, on the occasion of "International Women's Day".

Every year, with the opening of Global Entrepreneurship Week, a meeting is held at the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange with teenagers and graduates of entrepreneurship programs from all over the country. The meeting, supported by the American Embassy, includes the "pressing the button" class in which leading entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs, investors and consultants from Israel and the world participate, and they launch both the start of trading on the stock exchange and Entrepreneurship Week.  

After the opening meeting, we hold "round tables" that allow young people to hear, ask and share knowledge on the subject of entrepreneurship, and later on, the "Challenges of Entrepreneurship" session, where major challenges in the field of entrepreneurship are discussed, with only women on stage. 

Here are eight inspiring women entrepreneurs, who share with us their thoughts on what it means to be a woman entrepreneur:

Tammy Ben David1.jpg

Tammy Ben David


These are Matlon


Michal Levy-Medina


Ella Alkalai


Hana Redo


Dita Bronitsky

Renana Ashkenazi.jpg

Renana Ashkenazi

Noha Hijazi.jpg

Dr. Noha Hijazi


Entrepreneurial challenges

Ella Matlon, Chairman of the Global Entrepreneurship Network - Israel


Before the "Corona" there were elections. At an election meeting designated for the high-tech sector, I looked around,

And I felt in a time machine: in the audience  5% women, as it used to be, in the nineties, at conferences of

The Israeli Forum for Entrepreneurship - EFI.

In the high-tech sector we see improvement, although it is slow. Research conducted by Ed Roberts and Fiona Murray

About entrepreneurs graduating from MIT shows an increase in the number of women entrepreneurs, but only a few who managed to grow

Companies with significant volume. A recent publication by the Innovation Authority indicates that only 9% of companies

that won the PA grant were founded by women. Too few.

At the panel held at the American Deputy Ambassador's house on the occasion of International Women's Day, I was asked about the reasons for the situation, and the ways to change it. The answer is complex, because it is rooted in the way we are "programmed" to think ("socialization" in professional parlance). The social conventions start forming in our consciousness from the age of zero, and all the studies show how difficult it is to change this CD, in men as well as in women.


For most of us, it is "written" on the "hard disk" that men are better (smarter, more talented, more leadership). To change this we need to educate the educators, and the opinion leaders. And as every entrepreneur knows, doing market education is an impossible task. almost.  

But there are places where it has already happened. The briefing session on the Corona crisis by the Prime Minister of New Zealand was precise, focused and free of pomposity. So is the appearance of the Prime Minister who answers the questions of the children of Norway. And with us, the impressive professional expertise that we see on TV, after the ministers and CEOs of the ministries, all men, have received their air time. 

The publication here is part of the mobilization of the global entrepreneurship network to create an equal gender reality.

Every year, in the third week of November, 10 million women and men gather around the world to dream, talk and practice entrepreneurship.

In Israel, the opening of Entrepreneurship Week is held at the Israel Stock Exchange, in the presence of a young audience from all over the country. The "click of the button" opens trading on the stock exchange, and the events of Entrepreneurship Week in Israel.


In the last two years, we have added to the meeting a discussion on the challenges of entrepreneurship, with impressive women on stage with a history of leadership and success, who share their success in entrepreneurial endeavors.

The message that gets through is a message of strength, and it has meaning in changing gender-biased attitudes.

We asked them for further reference now, on the occasion of "International Women's Day".

Yumi Ishikawa.jpg

My personal choice for "Woman of the Year": Yumi Ishikawa, leader of the heel protest in Japan

About a year ago, Yumi Ishikawa, a Japanese actress, launched a campaign against their demand
of employers that women wear high heels in the workplace. This is a common requirement when the heel height
The requested 5-7.5 cm.


Wearing high heels, especially with thin heels (stilettos), is harmful to us, and limits our steps.
It has a negative effect on the structure of the foot, on the posture, and for many of us it causes leg and back pain. The ability to run or walk comfortably depends on suitable shoes, similar to the shoes worn by most men, shoes that follow the outline of the foot, instead of putting it in a brace.


In the 1990s, most American airlines required flight attendants to wear high-heeled shoes. A protest in Las Vegas in 2001 led to the cancellation of the requirement for casino workers to wear high-heeled shoes. A similar article was and still is used around the world.


the campaignKuToo# (inspired by MeToo#), a play on words between kutsu (靴), the Japanese word
for "shoes" and kutsū (苦痛), "pain", yielded over 150 thousand signatures. It goes without saying: Japan is placed in an unflattering place in the gender gap: 121st place out of 153 countries in the World Economic Forum's gender gap report.

Japan is not alone.


In 2015, a similar protest by El Al flight attendants, which won the support of customers, ended successfully.


At the 2015 Cannes Film Festival, a group of older women were refused to walk the red carpet with comfortable shoes (ie: without the "must have" item - high heels).

In 2016, a protest campaign was launched in England, after a receptionist was sent home when she refused to wear high heels. An attempt to enact a law prohibiting this type of article failed. But the trend had already been dictated: that year, sales of flat shoes surpassed sales of high heels in England, for the first time.


And in Japan in 2019, the Minister of Labor stated that high-heeled shoes are an integral part of the appropriate outfit for women in the workplace. 


and in parallel:

At Paris Fashion Week 2014, the world's leading models appeared in comfortable shoes (flat shoes) modeled in the Chanel fashion show designed by Karl Langerfeld, one of the world's most famous designers. 


At the 2016 Cannes Film Festival, in protest of the previous year's events, the actress Julia Roberts appeared barefoot (!) on the red carpet.


In 2017, following the protest of the waitresses at the 3 restaurant chains, the province of British Columbia in Canada banned companies from forcing female employees to wear high heels. The authorities determined that this is a dangerous and discriminatory act. A similar law was enacted in the Philippines.


And in 2018, again after an outside demand,   Apple added a flat shoe emoji to the search  Shoe, alongside the 3 heel emojis.


Along with the opposition to dictating this outrageous dress code by employers and legislators, there is also growing reluctance to adopt voluntary wearing of high heels by women.


The direction is clear, and yet, many women, among them social and business leaders, educated women with careers, choose to wear high heels even today, without the dictates from the outside. Some report the pleasure they derive from it. Maybe this is a female version of the "principle of respect".

- And perhaps the principle of respect is also what was behind a Chinese custom, which prevailed for over 1000 years: binding the feet of girls so that they do not grow. For the men it was sex appeal. But the price was heavy: these women became disabled.

- Leg binding was common in China until it was banned by law at the beginning of the twentieth century. Binding the feet of young girls (usually aged 4-7) prevented their growth and gave them an appearance that was considered an ideal of beauty. Wrapping a cloth around the leg when it is bunched up resulted in breaking the bones  of the leg, and keeping the size of the leg so that it did not exceed 10 - 15 cm. This wrapping degenerated, deformed and twisted the feet and resulted in paralysis. Wrapped legs that are size 7 cm were considered the ideal of beauty and were called golden lotus feet (Wikipedia).

In recent years we see more opinion leaders with flat shoes, including sports shoes, also in business contexts. release.


Beyond the question of whether we will agree that our employers, or the society around us, place unreasonable demands on our performance, it is important to ask whether we want these restrictive "feminine" aids, and for what? Do we need external confirmation of our strengths and abilities, of our attractiveness and presence?

More and more women answer "no".


Ella Matlon is an expert in high-tech entrepreneurship

and Chairman of the Global Entrepreneurship Network and the EFI Forum for Entrepreneurship in Israel.
The "handicap principle" theory, developed by Prof. Amots Zahavi, is accepted among researchers in the field of animal behavior as a theory that explains a certain aspect of communication between animals, with the message "I manage to function despite the clumsy tail on me" (in the case of the peacock) , is a message of strength. The principle of respect plays a significant role in the courtship processes in nature.

Tammy Ben David.jpg

The courage to stand up for yourself
Tami Ben David, entrepreneur and owner, "Tami Flour"

Tammy Ben David grew up in Dimona. the end of the world to the left. Very few resources, and few employment opportunities.

Tami was driven by healthy curiosity and a desire to experiment, and along with her work in the field of finance she developed skills
Self-learning technologies.

As someone who grew up on the flavors of Moroccan cuisine, she later found herself in internet culinary groups,
And later the awareness of the difficulties of baking without gluten: every "cup of flour" was replaced by a "chemistry book" of such flour,
Such an addition and another addition, which made baking difficult. Tammy joined the challenge.

Although she lacked the academic background, Tami read the appropriate chemistry books, explored possibilities
and compounds, fell and rose, and had short success: "Tami flour" is a gluten-free flour that is a 1:1 substitute
for plain flour.

As a production and distribution partner Tami chose a global giant, Portus, which has a presence in 180 centers around the world,
With the understanding that in this way it will be possible to leverage the knowledge she has developed for a solution on a global scale.

During the negotiations, a disagreement emerged between the parties: Tami insisted that the flour production remain in Israel, but Portus firmly refused. The company representatives left the negotiating table, and Tami was left with the dream in hand. A week, a month, and another month.

In her search for an alternative international partner, Tami located a new potential for partnership, but then, at the end of 5 months, Portos returned to the negotiating table, with the agreement that production would remain in Israel.

These days, the first shipment of "Tami Flour" is going abroad, and in the future the plant is expected to provide a livelihood for dozens of families in the Kiryat Malachi area.


Financing an entrepreneurial project without giving up capital in the company
Dita Bronitsky, entrepreneur and CEO (former), Ormat Group


Entrepreneurial challenges are many and varied: from defining the product and the market, protecting the knowledge, choosing a strategy
and its implementation, team building and retention, and more.
I chose to expand on a central challenge, the funding, and describe Ormat's dealings with funding

One of the first projects in the alternative energy industry in the world.

Unlike projects in other fields, the geothermal field is capital intensive, and is usually based on a combination
of equity and debt. Against the debt stand the project's assets: the project's revenues and its system of contracts,
That is, the execution capacity of the project itself. This strategy allows for growth without significant dilution.

For many years Ormat focused on the production and sale of products in the geothermal world.

In the mid-1980s, it moved to the initiation, construction and operation of geothermal power plants, and the sale of the electricity they produce on the basis of long-term contracts. The challenge was to find parties that would commit to lending the project the capital required to finance it. The project, with an investment of over 100 million dollars, is seen as having a high risk, due to the use of innovative technology.

The American Ministry of Energy supported the pioneering project to produce electricity from alternative energy, through a state guarantee given to the first projects. But the ministry dictated conditions related to the quality of the environment that the private funding sources did not agree to accept. We were working against a rigid schedule, if we don't stick to it, the tax benefits for the project will expire, then the equity investor will withdraw and the project will fall.

Fortunately for us, shortly after the retirement of the commercial lenders, an unused credit line of the Federal Financing Bank was found, which was converted to finance the first geothermal project. After that, after the technology was proven, the way to finance projects with real commercial financing was opened.


A brief snapshot of entrepreneurship

Hana Redo, entrepreneur of "Madbar 19"


We women have amazing ideas, in every field.

We know how to turn the ideas into a real product but,

It's hard for us to raise money, it's hard for women to raise money.

All the investors are men since only 2% of the capital belongs to women and therefore recruitment from women is very limited.

Men like to invest in men and therefore do not invest in women.

We don't have a safety net like there is among the "boys".

The connections between us will become significant only when there is enough capital dedicated to this, by women, for women and then the curve will straighten out.

It is important to note that today there is encouragement for female entrepreneurship, but there are no resources.

The journey is difficult when there are no resources, and the probability of success is smaller.

There are few success stories and inspiration of women who have made it to new entrepreneurs.

The solution is to invest significant financial resources in women's ventures.

Everyone talks about it, no body does it and we all lose and lose.


אלה אלקלעי

Invest in yourself
Ella Alkalai, chairman of the women's lobby

In most of the western world, women got the right to money in the sixties.
Before that, at least in the US, to open a bank account a woman needed permission
from the man in her life.

We were given the right to money but most of us shirk the duty to take care of it.

"Invest in yourself" was born with the aim of giving tools to handle our money.

Understand when when you start a business you want a partnership and when it is better for you to take a loan.

What should you ask and check to make investment decisions. How to invest in yourself.

Many get confused and see entrepreneurship as the ability to generate good ideas. The reality is that entrepreneurs are women with the ability to execute. Women with the ability to take a reasonable idea and turn it into a successful company. This process requires a lot of skills: the ability to recruit the right employees and the most appropriate facts at each stage, the ability to convince investors, the ability to manage development, marketing, flow, adapt the business model to the changing reality.

Many of these skills characterize women, yet most entrepreneurs are men. The willingness to take a personal risk and leave a secure livelihood, the willingness to risk other people's money on your ideas, the ability to believe that only you can and therefore will succeed where others have failed, the network of connections that is available to successful men and is not accessible to you, these are just some of the barriers that stop female entrepreneurs.

she codes, lean in, Supersons, 8200, entrepreneurs, Noami, Yasmin, these are just a small part of the organizations available to you to jump over the barriers.

Go for it, invest in yourself. 


Noha Hijazi.jpg

A bridge of entrepreneurship   

Dr. Noha Hijazi, researcher and entrepreneur, PAMBIO


I am a mother of three children, living in Neve Shalom, an Arab-Jewish cooperative village located near Letron.

I have worked in research since I was a student. In my doctorate in the department of neurology at the hospital
Hadassah Ein Kerem, the leading department in Israel, I developed a new method to test the connection
of the pathological protein PRP to the cells. I then completed my post-doctorate in the department
for hematology, also at Hadassah Hospital.

The combination of my experience in the fields of neurology and hematology helped me integrate and lead in research
whose purpose is to understand the mechanism of intracerebral bleeding, which causes a stroke, for which there is no answer to this day.

Later, a treatment for the phenomenon was developed. Our research has matured into new discoveries published in the world's leading newspaper in the field, (Blood), and the registration of two patents which contain a new treatment method that we offer to treat the disease.

Our idea and patents for the treatment of a cerebrovascular accident received funding from the Ministry of Economy's Ministry of Innovation (about NIS 5 million), and allowed us to establish a company called PAMBIO, which subsequently obtained good investments and is now in the middle of the development process of the drug by the Valin company, which it purchased About 51% of the shares of PAMBIO. 

In recent years I have been working at the technological incubator in Nazareth. The incubator was established, among other things, to encourage scientific entrepreneurship in the Arab sector. Throughout the entire period of my work at the incubator, there were entrepreneurs of both sexes, men and women, and from both nations, Arabs and Jews. In recent years, a number of projects entered the incubator, all of whose entrepreneurs were Jewish men. These days a project initiated by an Arab woman has been integrated into the greenhouse, and in addition there is another project in the greenhouse which was established by an Arab woman from Nazareth.

And we all get along great with each other.


Renana Ashkenazi.jpg

to be an entrepreneur

Renana Ashkenazi, investment partner in the Grove Venture fund

A search for "entrepreneurial challenges" brings up more than 150 million results on Google,
Only in English and even before looking for variations.

It is difficult to focus on one entrepreneurial challenge in a world that is all about one big challenge,
Every day and every moment. But if you try to define the essence of the challenge to me, it is probably the constant need to be at any given moment on both ends of each spectrum;
There is simply no middle ground.

The challenge is to be full of confidence on the way but also to be able to doubt all the time
(Because you know you know, but the truth is, others know too and it's worth listening).

Be imbued with faith in yourself but open to feedback (it will come, all the time, from whoever you ask and from whoever you don't).

To outline an orderly and clear plan for the next eight quarters, but be sure to change it, all the time (because the development took three times as long and the money was enough for half, because the customers want something different and because the investors are pulling in a different direction).

Going into a meeting with an important client and hearing how much more needs to be improved but coming out very optimistic. And pessimistic, so as not to get caught up in complacency.

Be naive enough to believe with all your heart that everything will be fine, even though the competition is tough and the customers don't close and the investors haven't signed the cruise line, but as realistic as possible to steer your ship in a constantly changing reality.


To be an entrepreneur is to be both. and also.


bottom of page