UBS - Ashoka Social Entrepreneurship Incubator

UBS and Ashoka: Innovators for the Public – the global social entrepreneurship network – have created in Israel a unique platform which supports teams of young social entrepreneurs engaged in “bottom up” change.

For the last few months, 40 UBS employees serve as mentors to 9 Ashoka teams of young entrepreneurs, who want to bring to life a range of social ventures aimed at creating positive and sustainable change in their communities. UBS staff members contribute their business, strategic and financial know-how, along with their personal and professional networks. Ashoka provides the entrepreneurial framework, toolkit and experience, pre-qualifies the young teams, and trains the UBS mentors.

Combining the social expertise of Ashoka and the business strengths of UBS, the mission of this new incubator is to support, develop the skills, and enhance the success of a carefully selected group of young Israeli leaders.

Our aim is to have an effect that is larger than the effort and the funds invested by UBS in the project, leverage the young entrepreneurs' impact and help them in changing their communities for good.

Kobi Faigenbaum, CEO UBS Wealth Management Israel: "I believe that our unique model, based on Ashoka's proven capabilities in scaling promising initiatives, and UBS investment and business know-how will greatly inspire and benefit this developing industry, introducing many win-win cases"
Itamar Perlov, Product Specialist and Investment Quality Manager: "This is the time to make a change, and we are getting there. Working with those amazing and inspiring entrepreneurs makes you a believer"
Amir Eshel, Desk Head: "We are living in a world of rapid changes, across all aspects of life. Those young entrepreneurs are consistently ambitioned by ensuring that those who are in need will not be overlooked"
Inbal Polak, Fund Analyst: "This is a great opportunity to bring benefit to the society. The wonderful thing is the added value and impact of the incubator".

Selected projects:

The Sky is the Limit

The Sky is the Limit is a unique program whose goal is to raise the sense of self-efficacy and social activism among teenagers at risk in Jerusalem. Through a joint learning process and personal empowerment, they create and run their own projects for and within their communities. Once the teenagers succeed in establishing their project and making it work on their own, they will see that, indeed, the sky is the limit.

The Entrepreneurs:
  • Moriah Ben Ami

    Moriah was born and raised in Kibbutz Revivm in the Negev. She has worked in formal and informal education on the Kibbutz since the 10th grade. Moriah was the head of the Israeli delegation of the Jewish Agency at JCC Ranch camp. Today she is a student at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, studying International Relations and Education, as well as a social activist in the Awakening Movement in Jerusalem and the founder of HaShamaim Hem HaGvool (the sky is the limit).

The Sky is the Limit

‘Adopt a Grandpa’

‘Adopt a Grandpa’ is based on a simple idea: connecting students who live alone in the city and need a second home to visit on Shabbat, a place to do laundry and other similar needs, with the elderly who live close by, and need a hand to help them operate a computer, rewrite their life stories (common with Holocaust survivors), or just need some company. After presenting the concept and establishing good connections with the social organizations that are in touch with the elderly, they received sufficient funding to launch the project this year. Gilad started with 7 students (and 9 elderly people, including 2 couples), 5 of these students will continue meeting the ‘Grandpas’ over the summer!

The Entrepreneurs:
  • Gilad Gosher

    Gilad is a 27-year-old student at the Hebrew University, studying law and business management. After a long period in the army as an officer in intelligence, and a long trip to South and Central America, he decided to study law in Jerusalem – not just because of the University’s good reputation, but also to get closer to all the significant Israeli conflicts that Jerusalem hosts: secular vs. religious population, Muslims Jews and Christians living together, poor and rich, etc. In addition to running ‘Adopt a Grandpa,’ Gilad volunteered as the representative of the law faculty in the student association, and provide law counseling for an NGO called Yedid.

Adopt a Grandpa

Mechinat Geffen

After successfully obtaining a Legal Attorney diploma Michal decided to follow her heart, left the big city and moved to manage the informal education system of Kibbutz Ein Gedi, located in the Judean desert. She is now a graduate student at the Hebrew University, studying for an MA in Sociology of Education, and during her (non-existent) free time Michal works on bringing her biggest dream (so far) to life: to build an empowering program for young women from the socio-economic periphery in Jerusalem.

The Entrepreneurs:
  • Michal Barkai

    Michal was born in Tel Aviv around thirty years ago. In the Israel Defense Forces, she initially served as a commander in basic training for women. Later Michal was promoted to serve as an officer at the Headquarters of the Advisor to Chief General Staff for Women’s Affairs. After her service in the IDF, she was sent to San Antonio, Texas on behalf of the Jewish Agency as a “Shlicha”. Then, at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Michal majored in Law, specializing in Constitutional Law. During her studies, she worked at the Educational Center of the Knesset, founded and also played in a field theater, and was one of first group leaders in the Masa Israeli Mibereshit Program – an informal education program, similar to Birthright, intended to strengthen the national and Jewish identity of students and soldiers from all over Israel and from all different backgrounds in Israeli society.



ZE ZE (“that’s it,” in Hebrew) promotes youth social activity. It is an active and involved community that uses its natural talents for social projects, thus creating social capital for people who develop themselves and their society simultaneously. Members are assigned to attractive social projects initiated by other members of the community. The social projects are guided by the new bottom line: not only P&L but also making a social impact. Current projects include: (i) the establishment of a street musicians’ orchestra for the production of large-scale concerts sponsored by some of the country’s leading musicians and (ii) a leadership training project for teenagers from peripheral cities who are then placed in summer camps as counselors, earning salaries.

The Entrepreneurs:
  • Narkis Alon

    Narkis is 24 years old, a mentor in the Junior Entrepreneurs Association and a member of the steering committee of the Tel Aviv municipality youth center. She studies Psychology and Film at Tel Aviv University, and previously served in the IDF in an elite intelligence unit.

  • Daniel Winkler

    Daniel is 23 years old, is studying for an LLB in law and a BA in Philosophy at Tel-Aviv University. He volunteers at the refuges rights program in the Law Clinics at Tel-Aviv University. Daniel served in the IDF as a foreign forces liaison NCO in the IDF strategic division.

  • Jonathan Winkler

    Jonathan is 23 years old, studies management and for an LLB and LLM in the IDC, Herzliya. He served in the IDF in a classified unit in the IDF intelligence and volunteered in the Labor court under the ‘Lev’ project, which helps to defend the labor rights of people without lawyers. Jonathan also took part in the children’s rights law clinic of the Elem Association, and also volunteered in some of their children’s centers. Finally, Jonathan is member of the Israel B’nai Brith association.


Keren Ba’ktana

Keren Ba’ktana is a national giving circle network of young Israeli’s who want to make a change in their society. Monthly, each group of 10-15 trustees pool 200 NIS and gives away small grants of 3,000 NIS to fabulous and local social projects. Keren Ba’ktana, a branch of the global organization, The Awesome Foundation, offers a double opportunity to do good. First of all, it provides financial support to small-scale public projects seeking their “big break.” In addition, it offers young professionals the opportunity to dip their toes into the philanthropic world through small acts of strategic giving – providing them with a chance to truly impact the environment around us.

The Entrepreneurs:
  • Kate Rosenberg

    Kate Rosenberg made Aliyah from Melbourne, Australia to Tel Aviv in 2008. Since then, she has worked extensively in the third sector and co-founded Tov Lada’at, a non for profit project which supports African Refugees in higher education in Israel. She holds a B.A. in Arts from the University of Melbourne, a certificate degree in Museum Studies from Haifa University and is currently completing a M.A. in Non for Profit Management from the Hebrew University, Jerusalem, pecializing in social enterprises and impact investment. Kate has worked in Jewish and museum education for over ten years and since moving to Israel has worked at Beit Hatfutsot, the Museum of the Jewish People as Coordinator of Professional Development. She is passionate about social change through innovation and developing new ways to improve our society through social business.

  • Orly Shafir

    Orly Shafir was born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona. Orly completed a degree in Family Studies and Human Development at the University of Arizona. After college, she worked for a local non-profit organization, Tu Nidito, working with seriously ill children before deciding to come to Israel on a volunteer program, Otzma. Orly made Aliyah in August of 2007 and has since been working at the Israel Experience managing young adult educational programs. Orly is due to complete her Masters in Non-Profit Management Fall 2012.

  • Emily Friedman Novak

    Emily Friedman Novak has extensive experience working in the field of philanthropy, with non-profit organizations and in foreign relations. She has over three years' experience working with top North American donors, foundation management, grant evaluation and Jewish community work. In her previous roles she has worked in Family and Private Foundations, Jewish community Centers and in the Israeli Foreign Ministry. Emily is fully bilingual and is culturally at home in both Israel and North America. She holds a BA in International Relations & Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Toronto and is currently completing her Masters in Non-Profit Management through the Schwartz Program at Hebrew University in Jerusalem.