A Beacon of Support for Small Businesses – HUBS-Aid Provides Unique Support for War Impacted Small Businesses

A Beacon of Support for Small Businesses – HUBS-Aid Provides Unique Support for War Impacted Small Businesses
19th March 2024 Moriah Aharon

The HUBS-Aid project led by Hebrew University Business School (HUBS) responded to the Gaza conflict’s impact on small businesses with innovative support, pairing them with mentors and students to devise tailored plans for recovery and growth. Around 80 businesses received vital assistance, demonstrating resilience and fostering community bonds amidst adversity.

The recent conflict in Gaza has inflicted widespread devastation, particularly affecting small businesses throughout the country. Many business owners have endured property and personal damage, evacuation, loss of clientele, and financial strain. In response to this crisis, the Hebrew University Business School launched the HUBS-Aid project, extending vital assistance to approximately 80 small business owners in the northern and southern regions.

Initiated by Professor Renana Peres of the Hebrew University Business School, the HUBS-Aid project stands as Israel’s first and only program of its kind, providing a much-needed and innovative response to the challenges confronting businesses during times of crisis. Through this initiative, business owners who were drafted into reserves or displaced from their homes received comprehensive business support from prominent businessmen across Israel and dedicated business administration students at Hebrew University. A pivotal aspect of the program was the collaboration among diverse population groups; for instance, an ultra-Orthodox student aiding a non-kosher restaurant from the south, and Jewish groups offering assistance to Druze businesses. These partnerships have yielded remarkable narratives of personal resilience and cross-cultural cooperation amidst adversity.

Prof Renana Peres reflects on the project’s impact, stating, “The business owners from the border areas are the unsung heroes of this war. They are the ones who, despite everything, insist on continuing to initiate, create, and act. Over the past few months, we have become a part of their hopes and dreams. Through this project, they have become a part of the Business School family at the Hebrew University.”

Central to the project’s mission was the development of a comprehensive intervention plan aimed not only at aiding businesses in recovering from the crisis but also empowering them to realize their aspirations. Each business received personalized attention, being matched with a team of three students and an alum who is a seasoned business mentor. Together, they collaborated to craft tailored strategies addressing the specific needs of each business. These strategies encompassed diverse areas such as optimizing cash flow, refining marketing techniques, expanding customer bases, adopting new technologies, and more. This bespoke approach ensured that businesses received targeted support to navigate challenges and pursue their objectives effectively.

Michal Ravid, owner of Paris Bakery in Sderot wrote to Alon Zamir from the project about his experience: “What a remarkable transformation, all thanks to you. I’m deeply grateful for your help. Without your involvement, this wouldn’t have been possible, of that I’m certain. Your arrival sparked a kind of magic, and despite the challenges we’re facing now, the profound impact it will bring makes it all worthwhile.”

The closing event of the HUBS-Aid program was held on Friday (15), with the participation of mentors, business owners, and dozens of leading businessmen in Israel. Among the attendees were Tal Verdi, chairman of the Altshuler Shacham Investment Committee; Alon Zamir, former VP Marketing of Coca Cola; Dudu Zaken, former supervisor of the banks; Efrat Yehudai, CFO of Teva; Itzik Margolin, VP of the financial division of Mercantile Bank; and Avi Cohen, CEO of Global.

The HUBS-Aid project stands as a testament to the resilience and compassion of the Israeli business community, showcasing the power of collaboration and support in times of crisis.

Pictures: Michal Revivo

Left to right:
Chen Lev Ami, CEO Yummi, mentor of Bashelna cooking workshop from Kibbutz Mefalsim
Prof. Renana Peres, head of HUBS_Aid project
Alon Zamir, entrepreneur, board member at Keshet Broadcasting, mentor of Paris Bakery, a patisserie in Sderot

Left to right
Asher Cohen, Menachem Ben Sasson, Tamir Sheafer, Renana Peres, Avi Bitan, head of urban development, Ofakim

Disclaimer: In these challenging times of war and crisis, Hebrew University of Jerusalem is resolute in its dedication to advancing research and education. We stand in full support of the brave individuals on the frontlines, safeguarding our nation and the well-being of all Israelis, and extend our deepest gratitude and unwavering solidarity to our community and fellow citizens. Together, we shall prevail against the challenges that confront us, and our shared commitment to the well-being of all Israelis and the pursuit of knowledge remains resolute.

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem is Israel’s premier academic and research institution. Serving over 23,000 students from 80 countries, the University produces nearly 40% of Israel’s civilian scientific research and has received over 11,000 patents. Faculty and alumni of the Hebrew University have won eight Nobel Prizes and a Fields Medal. For more information about the Hebrew University, please visit http://new.huji.ac.il/en.