CEO, Israel Venture Network (IVN, 2018-2020)
SII: Please briefly describe your work
DMP: The Israel Venture Network (IVN) was established 20 years ago by a group of Israeli and American high tech, VC and other business people to bring their collective management skills to help narrow social gaps in Israel. They started in educational programs, and over time developed a network of senior business people who provided mentoring and management skills to businesses that either employ or benefit marginalized populations such as People with Disabilities, Haredim, Arab citizens of Israel and Youth at Risk, among others.
Today IVN manages three social impact investment funds: Yozma (a public-private partnership) investing in companies that employ the most marginalized populations in Israel, Tandem, a philanthropic Evergreen fund that invests in companies that employ or benefit Haredim, Arab citizens of Israel and People with Disabilities, and our Seed Program, together with Bank Mizrahi Tfahot, that provides grants and mentorship to social entrepreneurs.
We also run a number of other projects, including Power in Diversity (PID) which trains and supports Diversity and Inclusion in the Israeli high-tech sector, Extra-Net, providing mentors to interesting impact companies and MentOr, that provides mentors to NGO’s struggling to survive during the Covid-19 pandemic.
SII: Please characterize your interaction with government, civil society and the private sector
DMP: In 2015, IVN won a government tender to operate and manage the Yozma social impact investment fund – the first of its kind in Israel, which combined government, philanthropic and private investment to support companies that employ marginalized populations. Thus, IVN has been a focal point for public-private and philanthropic partnerships for some time. We sit at the meeting point between business and philanthropy – we help solve social problems using business management skills and investment.
SII: Name three principle values that you associate with your work?
DMP: Capacity Building, Community Building, Tikkun Olam. First, we help marginalized populations help themselves – this is all about giving tools to people-the proverbial fishing rods and not fish. Second, through the Network, we strengthen the fabric of Israeli society by bringing together people from vastly different backgrounds and help to narrow the social gaps in Israeli society. Tikkun Olam – all of our time and energy is focused on making life better for marginalized populations.
SII: What particularly motivates you to make a difference?
DMP: Although I think that there will always be room for pure philanthropy, I am very passionate about finding ways of investing that make a positive social or environmental impact that can be measured, and can provide returns to investors. I am also intrigued by “Networks” of people who act as a community to strengthen our society- at IVN we bring together people of such diverse backgrounds, Israeli and American, Arabs and Jews, People with Disabilities, Haredi and secular, all working together towards the common goals of creating successful and impactful companies that employ or benefit marginalized populations.
SII: What positive impact do you see emerging through your activity?
DMP: We see thousands of people gainfully employed by or who benefit from our portfolio companies – this gives people dignity and the ability to provide for themselves. On another level, I believe there is a significant impact created by strengthening the network of mentors – people who have been very successful in their professional lives, volunteering their time and expertise to help people that may come from very different backgrounds succeed, thus creating a stronger and healthier society.
SII: What is your favorite project?
DMP: This is a tough question! I am very connected to all our portfolio companies, the social entrepreneurs and the mentors- I recommend visiting the IVN website to read all about the portfolio! Just to give you a sense of the kinds of ventures we support: Call Yachol – a call center employing hundreds of people with disabilities, Ravtech, a company that trains and employs Haredi computer programmers, Ecommunity, a company that recycles electronic waste- 80% of their 100 employees are people with disabilities, KitePride, that recycles kitesurfing sails and employs survivors of human trafficking to make beautiful bags and accessories, and Doggiz, that operates a platform matching dogwalkers and dog owners, and employs people on the Autism spectrum, to name just a few!
SII: How has your work been affected by the COVID-19 crisis?
DMP: With the outbreak of Covid-19, almost all of our portfolio companies were adversely affected, at least in the short term. IVN Board Members and Mentors went into high gear to help our companies make necessary changes and strategic plans to survive. At the moment, most of the companies have adapted to the new reality. Also, at the height of the crisis in March, we established a new program called MentOr, together with the Jewish Agency, Keren Shemesh of the Ogen Group and the National Insurance Agency, providing mentors from the IVN network to help the struggling Not-for-Profit sector get through this period.
More about Devorah Patt
Prior to joining IVN nearly two years ago, Devorah worked on an impact investment fund designed to invest in water and sanitation projects in Africa. She also served as a consultant for the establishment of a ‘social bank’ in Israel.
Devorah spent 10 years in senior management positions at AIPAC-AIEF, Israel, and started her career as an attorney in private practice, specializing in the field of government contracts and infrastructure projects.
She serves as an active member of the Board of Directors of the Israel Museum and holds a Juris Doctor of Law from Georgetown University and an A.B with honors from Vassar College, and is a member of the Bar Associations in Massachusetts, Washington D.C. and Israel.