Since the dawn of time, Jews and Indians have traded with each other. The ancient Jewish scriptures describe how once every three years the merchant fleet of Tarshish came back laden with gold, silver, ivory and exotic animals during the reign of King Solomon. Modern linguistic evidence points to India as the destination of these voyages. For centuries Jewish merchants and communities were welcomed on Indian shores. In 10th Century C.E. a powerful South Indian King even granted special privileges to Jewish trading community of the port city of Cochin – comparable with modern day tax exemption and free-trade zone.

It was therefore but natural that, when India formalized her relations with the Jewish State in 1991, Indians and Israelis started to trade – as if they were making up for the lost centuries – taking the bilateral trade from $200 million in 2001, to over $6 billion in 2013As steady but irreversible market reforms unfetter India’s entrepreneurial potential, young Indians look more and more towards the Start-Up Nation for inspiration and collaboration.

In the wake of economic boom in sectors like IT, Telecom, Pharma and Bio-Technology – India did see increase in number of women employed in new sectors of economy. However, women continue to face serious challenges in rising up to leadership positions in Corporate India.

Now an Israeli initiative wants to give Indian women entrepreneurs the tools to break through these glass ceilings and acquire world-class leadership skills. The Bonita Trust, The Israel Asia Center, and Sofaer International MBA at Tel Aviv University have joined hands to offer a scholarship program specially tailored for Indian women entrepreneurs.

The scholarship offers a unique opportunity to women entrepreneurs, by covering full tuition fee at Tel Aviv University’s International MBA program and participation in the prestigious Israel-Asia Leaders Fellowship, along with a chance of getting seed funding for an Israel-India venture after successful completion of the program.

According to Rebecca Zeffert, Founder and Executive Director of the Israel-Asia Center, “This (scholarship) is a fantastic opportunity for a young Indian female entrepreneur to develop and receive support for her own Israel-India venture in the ‘Start-Up Nation’, to meet business and government leaders, acquire valuable leadership and business skills, and tap into and build partnerships with one of the world’s leading and most exciting hubs for innovation and technology.”

In keeping with the expectations of the Indian and Asian students, who still value well-structured and demanding curricula, Sofaer International MBA offers a rigorous core curriculum, but in addition to that, also allows participants be creative and choose from a wide-range of elective courses, offering greater control in shaping the program to fit individual career needs. Israel-Asia Leaders Fellowship Program adds to this management training experience by providing the right contacts, skills-sets and support network to build partnerships with Israel in their chosen field. Aimed at build leadership, the program gives fellows opportunities to speak at notable events and write for domestic and international media.

For the new generation of budding Indian women entrepreneurs rearing up to take on the challenges of Corporate India and break through the glass ceiling, this experience won’t just change their lives, but holds a greater promise of transforming mind-sets and breaking news grounds in India.

Bonita Trust Israel-India Leaders Scholarship (Copyright: Bonita Trust)

Bonita Trust Israel-India Leaders Scholarship (Copyright: Bonita Trust)

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