Profitability + altruism + saving the planet? Yosef I. Abramowitz from Arava Power, Kibbutz Ketura Israel – one of the latest ventures in clean tech launched from an Israeli kibbutz.
The Kibbutz Movement celebrated its centenary in 2010, but the last decades of the 20th Century were not kind to Israel’s collective settlements. The shift in Israel’s economy, politics and society beginning in the late 70s stripped the kibbutzim of their status and pioneering role, and brought harsh economic realities to their doorsteps. Being the pioneer elite for Zionism was no longer enough; kibbutzim were now required to pay their own way as well.
The patient has now stabilised, but in many cases this has meant kibbutzim having to abandon their socialist ideals and privatise their internal economies. While kibbutzim still offer an attractive lifestyle, based on their bucolic setting and community orientation, they have not managed to regain their sense of mission and purpose and leadership role in Israeli society. They are moving into the business of clean tech, Bloomberg reports.
There are signs, however, that the cleantech sector could become the engine that drives a revival, both of the kibbutz economy and of its status within Israeli society and the Green movement globally. The cleantech sector offers the benefits of profitability plus altruism, dividends plus saving the planet (or at least making parts of it a better place to live or work).
While the allure of socialism has waned, the kibbutz itself still has much to offer. If kibbutzim are to survive and thrive, though, the movement needs a new sense of purpose, a new vision and new markets. Cleantech may well provide those ingredients.
“The partnership works well for both sides,” said Eliezer Tokman, chief executive officer of Siemens Israel in the Bloomberg report. “The guys at Arava are the entrepreneurs. They initiate projects and deal with regulation, and we design, build and maintain the projects.”
See video on Arava Power’s Yosef I. Abramowitz below:
Think this may be stretching things a bit? Have a look at this list of familiar Israeli cleantech enterprises, all featured on Green Prophet. As well as Israel and cleantech, they all have something else in common; a healthy kibbutz upbringing!
Further reading on Israeli kibbutzim:
5 Must-See Green & Tech Travel Stops at Israeli Kibbutzes
Israel’s cleantech kibbutzim pioneers
Image credit: Uriel Sinai/Bloomberg Businessweek