You can find business opportunities in every part of Israel and to match a variety of lifestyles. Whether you open your own business or look for employment in an existing company, the challenge in the Israeli business world is finding your particular niche in a market that is vastly different from the U.S., Canada or the UK. The business world is more flexible than many other areas of employment, since it does not require specific licensing procedures or educational background.
Before you open a business or start to look for employment in the field, the Nefesh B’Nefesh Employment Department can provide you with professional contacts who can give you expert advice about business opportunities and the Israeli market. Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For additional information about the legal and taxation aspects of working as a freelancer, please see the following blog post by entrepreneur and writing professional Mor Getz: Writer? Freelance, Consultant, Sub-Contractor, In-House: All-of-the-Above
Starting a Small Business – MATI
MATI offers a wide range of services for individuals who are starting businesses. If you are opening a business, it is highly recommend that you contact your local MATI office. The services that MATI provides to new Olim (up to 10 years in Israel) are free of charge and sponsored by the Ministry of Klita. Some of their services include:
- One-on-one counseling, providing assistance in the beginning stages. Counselors will help you put together a business plan.
- Courses about opening, running and financing a business in Israel. Hebrew-language courses are run frequently; English-language courses are run less frequently in Jerusalem, Ramat Gan, Haifa, Beit Shemesh and Raanana. These courses are highly subsidized.
- Information and guidance about securing business loans. For basic information, see: http://www.english.mati.org.il/170127/sources-of-Financing
- Mentorship program that offers you a comprehensive package of personally customized business mentorship with highly experienced professionals who know the Israeli market. New Olim (up to 10 years in Israel) are entitled to up to 20 hours of free business mentoring with a recognized business coach, subsidized by Misrad Haklita.
For additional details regarding MATI services, please contact your local MATI office.
There are 24 MATI offices throughout Israel. Each has its own site, some of which have English language information (in addition to Hebrew). To gain a sense of the type of resources that are available through MATI, see www.mati.org.il. For a complete list of all MATI offices throughout Israel, click here or call 050-202-7919
There is a lot of information available on http://business.jerusalem.muni.il/ including information on getting a business license and other business services.
Keren Shemesh provides start-up mentoring, financing and business resources for young Israelis ages 20-35, to start and grow businesses. Keren Shemesh finances 75% of the costs involved in the following pre care activities:
- Selecting the business idea
- Checking suitability
- Studying feasibility
- Preparing a business plan
- A business entrepreneurs’ course and mentoring
- And, finally – approval of a loan of up to NIS 90,000
Being Self-Employed (Atzmai) in Israel, as anywhere else, has its advantages and disadvantages. On the one hand, being atzmai offers the advantage of independence and flexibility. On the other hand, the lack of guaranteed work and income is a disadvantage.
Many types of professions are appropriate for self-employment, including consultants, translators, tutors, dentists, writers, trades persons, artists, etc.
Before becoming atzmai, consult with legal and accounting professionals. It is necessary to open a file, or tik at the Income Tax Authorities (Mas Hachnasah), Value Added Tax (Maam) and National Insurance Institute (Bituach Leumi).
If you need to consult with an American or Canadian accountant in Israel, see AACI’s List of Accountants.
Understanding Israeli Business Practices
There are legal and cultural differences that make it hard to jump into the Israeli business scene when you first arrive. Running a business in Israel is not the same as running a business in the U.S. or Canada.
When you enter the Israeli business world, seek good professional advice from both lawyers and accountants. In addition, speak to as many people as possible in your field, and find out whatever information is available about the market before you begin.
If you need assistance in identifying contacts in your field, write to the Nefesh B’Nefesh Employment Department at email@example.com. Nefesh B’Nefesh is connected with many individuals, and would be happy to assist you in building up a professional network that will help make your business a success.
Working with Overseas Markets
Whether you are involved in a large-scale operation or a small, home-run business, the wonders of the Internet and VoIP phone lines have made it easy to work with overseas markets. The time zone differences, however, cannot be avoided. If you’re planning on working with U.S.-based clients, be prepared to work in Israel primarily in the afternoon and evening hours, when U.S. businesses are open.
In addition, if you are working with international clients you may need to travel abroad frequently, which can certainly affect your lifestyle and your ability to acclimate to your new Israeli environment.
Knowledge of Hebrew
If you are interested in working for an Israeli company or opening a business geared to the local Israeli market, a good working knowledge of Hebrew is essential, and it is strongly advised to take Ulpan upon arrival.
If your Hebrew is limited, you might want to consider opening your business in a community with a large number of English speakers, such as the greater Jerusalem area, Bet Shemesh, Raanana or Modiin.
If you are opening a business geared towards the international market, you should be able to work almost entirely in English. It might be convenient to explore Internet-based business opportunities for the initial period after you first arrive.