Newly-established NGO Carmel 6000 has a mission: To bridge the gap between start-ups and those who need technology most – the poor, the sick and the underdog.
Founder of the organization, Yossi Tsuria, aims to create technology solutions for those who either don’t have access to the technologies developed by hi-tech companies or simply don’t currently have a solution that can drastically improve their life.
“The high-tech world is cruel – if you look at the bottom line it is all about money,” Tsuria told TPS. “We see this as an opportunity for us, the Jewish people, to take the lead [and] to make an impact on the world in a significant way.
“Israel is one of the top 5 in CyberTech. Carmel 6000 want to also replicate this achievement with Social Tech,” he added.
Due to economic constraints, many needy populations that could benefit greatly from these advanced technologies are being left behind. He said that the goal is to develop and craft innovative applications and solutions in the areas of welfare, education and health for disadvantaged populations and social organizations. Alongside this, “we hope to create solutions which not only tackle social issues, but also have a measurable business model with economic feasibility.”
The focus for this year is mainly the education sectors, and especially the education of children, teenagers and young adults who have some kind of mental or physical disability.
Carmel 6000 met with leaders at several NGO institutions, as well as staff at special needs schools, and asked them what their needs are that Carmel 6000 could possibly address. The result was a portfolio of 20-plus projects, some of them are “world first” that carry the potential to have a real impact.
Another focus of Carmel 6000 is to narrow the gender gap within the hi-tech world by bringing on board young women to train in coding and engineering as well as to work on the NGOs tech projects.
“We chose to target women because in the tech world, women are underrepresented across the board, from coders to venture capitalists, from engineers to equity funds,” Tsuria explained. “According to the latest data from the Finance Ministry, several factors are at play, chief among them discriminatory stereotyping, a shortage of role models and a lack of networking opportunities.”
The Carmel 6000 program is aimed at women doing their National Service and it was “designed to groom the next generation of creators, young women creating technologies that help the neediest among us. “Rather than join the IDF’s elite 8200 unit, high school girls can join the Carmel 6000 program and while fulfilling their mandatory national service, they are taking part in a program that offers them mentoring from successful people in hi-tech. They learn networking skills side by side with coding and engineering, while [also] creating devices, programs and applications that help the underserved in society,” Tsuria emphasized. These mentors come from well-known companies that include Cisco, NDS, L&T, Intel, Matrix, and many other start-ups.
“The combination of passionate, brilliant young women with experienced hi-tech individuals has the potential to yield amazing and innovative technology solutions to hard problems,” added Tsuria. One of the program participants, Avital Weisinger, said that she’s been with Carmel 6000 since December and described the program “as a perfect balance between women empowerment and developing technology that will help society.”
She said at the moment, one of the projects she’s working on is a special bracelet for deaf people, which vibrates to enable them to “hear via frequencies” it receives, as well as an app that connects to the bracelet.
After her time at Carmel 6000, Weisenger said that she plans to go into the hi-tech profession and although it’s always been what she’s wanted to do, “the program has taught me a lot about the profession and learning how to be a full stack developer [someone who is fluent in the levels of software technology] and the ins and outs, the challenges and how to present myself in front of a team.”
International director Avital Bayer encouraged people from outside of Israel to see what the NGO is doing. “We offer internships ranging from two weeks to a year, so people from outside the country can also work on projects alongside the girls.”
The Ministry of Education, the Ministry of the Diaspora Affairs and the Authority for Innovation joined the initiative and the first cycle of the National Service Program was launched this month, about 30 girls are taking part.
For the 2019 cycle, Carmel 6000 plans to double this number to over 60.
Written by Ilanit Chernick | Photo by Avital Weisinger