Merav Galili

From adversity to advantage: How Israel’s impact landscape grew out of conflict

An aerial view of the Ayalon highway running between Tel Aviv and Ramat Gan, October 17, 2018. (Matanya Tausig/FLASH90)
An aerial view of the Ayalon highway running between Tel Aviv and Ramat Gan, October 17, 2018. (Matanya Tausig/FLASH90)

In the tumultuous landscape of perpetual conflict, Israel has demonstrated a remarkable capacity to transform adversity into opportunity. Despite the challenges, Israel’s unwavering spirit and entrepreneurial drive have repeatedly spurred a profound evolution, giving rise to the renowned Israeli high-tech sector.

The constant need for self-reliance has driven innovation beyond the military sector, in agriculture, water management, and renewable energy. Israel’s technological advancements in these areas have not only addressed domestic challenges but have also become lucrative export products, contributing to the country’s economic growth.

Central to this transformation were several key factors, including a culture of risk-taking, a vibrant ecosystem of research institutions, and a steady influx of talent from elite military units. Government support played a crucial role as well, providing incentives for investment, fostering entrepreneurship, and nurturing a conducive regulatory environment.

Similar to previous instances of “development arising from crisis,” the ongoing war can also be seen as an opportunity for growth and advancement. The remarkable outpouring of support that has emerged since October 7th has given rise to numerous initiatives aimed at assisting those in need. This includes the tens of thousands of evacuees, the wives of military reservists left to manage homes and children on their own for months, the devastated communities in the south, and the businesses of reservists called for duty that were left unattended.

Private organizations, motivated by a sense of corporate social responsibility, have actively contributed resources and expertise. Government agencies have implemented policies and programs to provide both immediate relief and long-term solutions. Civic society, comprising non-profits and community-based organizations, has played a pivotal role in grassroots efforts, bridging gaps and ensuring that no one is left behind.

However, as the nation grapples with complex social challenges, there is a growing recognition that understanding and quantifying the outcomes of these initiatives is crucial for their sustainability and effectiveness. The wave of large-scale social initiatives has transformed Israel into fertile ground for the development of impact measurement practices.

While the field of social impact measurement has made significant strides in recent years, Israel’s unique context provides an opportunity to pioneer innovative approaches and methodologies.

Two years ago, the Menomadin Foundation published its inaugural Impact Report. The foundation, which combines philanthropy in Africa and Israel with impact investments in startups in Israel and Europe, has developed a unified system for measuring the impact of these various initiatives. This data-driven approach not only validated the efficacy of the initiatives but also allowed for strategic adjustments to maximize positive outcomes.

Through our experience, we have found that scoring is an essential tool, aiding both the organizations being scored and their investors in ensuring alignment with their goals and mission statement. Often, when we collected and analyzed the data, we realized if we were deviating from our intended direction, prompting us to revisit our strategies.

Managing impact is a continuous process — analyzing findings, learning lessons, and refining our work. But we learned that without hard data, achievements are reduced to a mere collection of anecdotes and good stories.

As Israel navigates the complex terrain of conflict and crisis, the imperative of impact measurement emerges as a beacon of clarity amidst uncertainty. The journey from adversity to innovation, exemplified by the evolution of Israel’s high-tech sector, underscores the transformative power of rigorous measurement practices. In the wake of recent challenges, the outpouring of support and the proliferation of social initiatives underscore the urgency of understanding and quantifying their outcomes.

As we continue to navigate turbulent waters, let us ensure that the legacy of resilience and innovation is not merely recounted in anecdotes but substantiated by concrete evidence, guiding us towards a future of enduring impact and transformation.

About the Author
Dr. Merav Galili is the CEO of the Menomadin Foundation, an international Israeli-based impact fund that promotes innovative solutions to sustainable development challenges in Israel and Africa, in a model that combines strategic philanthropy and impact investments. Over two decades in senior management positions in academia and non-profit organizations, Dr. Galili has specialized in establishing local and international partnerships to promote business and social initiatives. In her last position, she served as Vice President for Development at Bar-Ilan University.
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