In a ceremony in Jerusalem yesterday, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) and Israel’s Ministry of the Economy formalized their partnership to leverage Israeli agricultural technology as part of JDC’s soon to be launched Tikkun Olam Ventures (TOV) program alleviating poverty among Africa’s smallholder farmers. Representing the partners were Shay Rinsky, Director General of the Ministry of Economy and Industry; Mandie Winston, director of JDC’s international development program; and American businessman and philanthropist Seth Merrin. Known for his transformative impact investment work in the developing world, including his visionary support of TOV, Merrin is the founder and CEO of LiquidNet and is recognized for his ongoing efforts at the flagship Agahozo Shalom Youth Village in Rwanda, founded by his wife Anne Heyman (z’l) together with JDC.
“We’re incredibly proud to empower the developing world’s poor by deploying Israel’s leading agricultural expertise. We have long relied on Israeli ingenuity in post-disaster zones and by cooperating with Israel to further solve development challenges, we can advance not just lives in Africa, but use those learnings to benefit all humankind,” said Winston.
TOV’s partnership with the Israeli government will include the transfer of Israeli AgTech knowledge to experts, businesses, and smallholder farmers in emerging economies and the development of knowledge in Israel about both needs of smallholder farmers to promote innovation and about effective business models for reaching smallholder farmers. The partnership will also foster knowledge communities in Israel to disseminate and develop knowledge gained through TOV’s work in Africa, which is already underway in seven farming demonstration sites in Ethiopia.
“Israel has incredible skills and technologies to share that will make the world a better place and significantly improve the lives of many. TOV is a novel philanthropic model that creates the perfect public-private partnership to implement the technology and the training necessary to significantly improve the yields of the farmers which begins the journey out of poverty. It is incredibly exciting to think about how many lives we will impact over the coming years,” said Seth Merrrin.
TOV, which will be launched this fall, will provide farmers financing leveraged by a philanthropic loan fund, Israeli agricultural technology and training to increase and improve crop yield, and access to new markets to sell their crops. TOV’s operating model is based around the philanthropic loan fund — created with lead support from American Jewish philanthropists Seth Merrin, Laura Gurwin Flug, and Danielle Flug Capalino — to aid these farmers.
“This initiative is an important platform for the Ministry of Economy and Industry to give the developing world access to Israeli solutions to the challenges faced by so many. TOV, the outcome of collaboration between the public, private and NGO sectors, utilizes Israeli knowledge, technology and know-how to promote international development and improve the lives of thousands in developing markets,” said Eli Cohen, Israel’s Minister of Economy and Industry.
TOV is a program of JDC GRID, the organization’s platform for deploying disaster response and development interventions around the world, utilizing Israeli expertise to solve these challenges and encouraging Jewish community engagement in humanitarian efforts locally and globally.