May 13, 2024 — 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 of Jerusalem Business School launched the HUBS-Aid project, extending vital assistance to approximately 80 small business owners in the Israeli northern and southern regions.

Initiated by Prof. 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 at 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 about his experience from the project: “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  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.

Left to right:
Chen Lev Ami, CEO of Yummi & mentor of the Bashelna cooking workshop from Kibbutz Mefalsim; Prof. Renana Peres, head of the HUBS-Aid project; Alon Zamir, entrepreneur, board member at Keshet Broadcasting & mentor of Paris Bakery, a patisserie in Sderot | Credit: Michal Revivo
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