Establishing a micro-business is often the only way for women in Israel with limited job prospects to achieve economic independence and to mobilize themselves socially and personally. For thousands women who recently immigrated or come from less advantaged backgrounds, owning and operating a business opens the door to fuller integration into the Israeli society.

Many women, however, lack business experience and management training; they have great difficulty obtaining credit, suffer from low self-esteem and are fearful of marketing challenges. Where can these women turn for guidance and practical assistance? Most existing organizations are geared toward serving small and medium business owners; thus, Supportive Community was created in 2003 to address the unique needs of women who operate micro-businesses.

Supportive Community ? Women?s Business Development Center is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping every Israeli woman who wishes to improve her economic and social status through establishing and operating a micro-business. Founded by a group of businesswomen, all recent immigrants from the former Soviet Union, Supportive Community serves women from many of Israel?s diverse backgrounds ? immigrants from the FSU and Ethiopia, native Israeli Arabs and Jews, ultra-Orthodox women and others.

The model developed by Supportive Community has been successfully adapted to meet the specific requirements of women from each of these multicultural groups. Designed especially for women, the model enables them to obtain the vital knowledge, skills and management tools they need to set up and develop their micro-businesses. The resulting social and economic empowerment literally changes their lives, and the benefits of their newfound competence and confidence extend also to their families and their communities.

We conduct the following programs to achieve our goals: Women Empower Women; Business Development Services; Loans; Fairs and Trade Shows; Cooperation Projects for small groups of women in the same field who work together with a professional facilitator to develop new strategies for growing their micro-businesses; Businesses for the Community -Women entrepreneurs get involved in volunteer work in the wider community to enhance cooperation between businesses and communal organizations.

To date the organization has helped over 1,600 women. 15 of more than 100 businesses established in 2003, have an monthly turnover of more than 5 thousand NIS. In 2007, 80% of our graduates increased their income by 20%. 33% of our members created jobs for themselves and some times an additional employment opportunity.