This article was first published by The Times of Israel and was re-posted with permission.
The Tel Aviv municipality is teaming up with veterans of the army’s elite Unit 8200 to promote urban-social entrepreneurship in the poorer neighborhood of Neve Shaanan, in the south of the city, which is home to thousands of migrants, generally poorer Israeli citizens, and Tel Aviv’s notorious central bus station.
The cornerstone of this initiative is a new center, known in Hebrew as Haratzif, or The Platform, which is located in the renovated ticket office of the former, now defunct, bus terminal. Over the past year, the city transformed the abandoned site into a streamlined and sparkling tech center that it hopes will provide fledgling businesses and would-be entrepreneurs with the tools they need to have an impact on society, through lectures, workshops and mentorships.
But first, the municipality had to get the word out, said Shana Krakowski, director of Haratzif.
She said the city was confident that it could attract applicants for the project on its own, but that by teaming up with Unit 8200 alumni, who come with a sterling reputation in the tech world, Haratzif could hit the ground running.
“We know that Shmone-Matayim” — as Unit 8200 is known in Hebrew — “attracts some of the best, brightest and most dedicated to social entrepreneurship,” Krakowski told The Times of Israel at the Haratzif building in Neve Shaanan.
The south Tel Aviv neighborhood is geographically close to the city’s shaded Rothschild Boulevard, where trendy coffee shops and bars are patronized by tech entrepreneurs who zip around on electric bikes and scooters. But socioeconomically, Neve Shaanan is far cry from leafy Rothschild.
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