A New Way To Engage In Philanthropy

Posted on: Tuesday, 7 March 2017 at 1:53:44 PM

Article from the AICC(WA) Cocktail Event with Dana Lifshitz, CEO of Appleseeds Academy, in collaboration with the UIA, hosted by Jackson McDonald and held at Flux on 2 March, 2017.

From L to R: Mr Gordon Cole, Chairman, Noongar Chamber of Commerce, Mr Graham Laitt, President, Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce (WA), Ms Dafna Lifshitz, Chief Executive Officer, Appleseeds Academy, Mr Adam Levin, Partner, Jackson McDonald, Mr Ori Demb, Executive Director, United Israel Appeal, Mr Paul Israel, Executive Director, Israel-Australia Chamber of Commerce and Mr John Cluer, Chief Executive, Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce (WA)


In the relaxed setting of Flux, Dafna Lifshitz shared her inspirational journey of developing hi-tech education and new career opportunities for young people who live in areas with a lower socio-economic demographic and who encounter profile based disadvantages when seeking skills development.  Brought to Perth by the UIA (United Israel Appeal), the WA President of the UIA, Mr Todd Wilner spoke of collaboration between organisations and welcomed the opportunity to extend the WA business community access to the Appleseeds story through the auspices of the AICC(WA).

In the auspicious company of AICC(WA) President Mr Graham Laitt, and an eclectic group of some of WA’s most senior business representatives and aspiring young entrepreneurs, AICC(WA) business networking benefits were extended to all participants.

Mr Todd Wilner, President, United Israel Appeal

Mr Paul Israel, Executive Director, Israel-Australia Chamber of Commerce

CEO of the Israel-Australia Chamber of Commerce, Mr Paul Israel also addressed the event, sharing an account of his involvement with the inaugural visit of Israel’s Prime Minister, Mr Benjamin Netanyahu, to Australia.  Mr Netanyahu was able to execute an agreement with Australian Prime Minister Mr Malcolm Turnbull to fund collaborative Research & Development in Australia.  The significance of this is underpinned by the role of the Chief Scientist in Israel who administers $US0.5 billion of innovation grant allocations.

Mr Israel joined an entourage of 25 Israeli companies who accompanied the Prime Ministers visit.  This activity complements twenty AICC Australian trade delegations that visited Israel during 2016, with a further 30 delegations currently slated for 2017.

Describing Israel’s economy as “one that should not be as strong if you consider the low natural resource base and defence burden on Israel’s budget” Mr Israel shared some notable accomplishments;

  • Israel’s GDP grew by 3% last year
  • Unemployment in Israel is at a relatively low 5%
  • Last year $US5 billion was invested into start up business and there were $US10 billion worth of recorded exits.
  • Israel now has 50 hi-tech companies with a market capitalisation exceeding $US 1 billion.

Noting how Dafna Lifshitz is a shining example of an Israeli serial entrepreneur who evolves business and helps make technology accessible, Mr Israel referred to her as a “shining light to the nations;  a modern incantation of Israel’s prophetic vision.”

Her reputation preceding her, with humility and charisma, Ms Lifshitz talked about her Appleseeds journey.  The Academy in Hebrew is called Net@ (Neta) and is a play on the Hebrew language word for planting seeds.


About Appleseeds Academy

Appleseeds Academy was established in 2000 in order to bridge the gap between the Startup Nation and Israel’s geographic and social periphery. We work to close the digital divide through the development and implementation of basic and advanced technology programs, vocational trainings, and life skills development. Working with a team of 250 professional instructors, Appleseeds operates in dozens of locations throughout Israel, from Kiryat Shmona to Eilat. We reach 100,000 beneficiaries per year, mostly residents of the social and geographic periphery of Israel who lack the infrastructure and skills required for integrating fully into Israel’s economic future. Our specific target populations include: children and youth, youth at risk, women seeking employment; members of the Israeli minority sectors such as Arab society, Bedouin, the Druze community, the ultra-Orthodox, and new immigrants; as well as teachers, student teachers, and special needs populations.

Ms Dafna Lifshitz, Chief Executive Officer, Appleseeds Academy


Ms Lifshitz spoke about her initial encounters with students, and the disparity of opportunity.  Many successful start-up businesses attract talent and market capital through elite graduates of the Army, targeting national service as a means of building resilience in all areas, including business.  By forming alliances, Ms Lifshitz described Net@ as “almost a form of youth movement” to bring hi-tech graduates into some of the more remote and less privileged sectors of Israeli society.

Through skilling programmers, application developers, and coding experts, new career pathways and opportunities were extended to program participants.  They in turn became active contributors to communities by assisting schools and voluntary organisations to obtain ICT expertise. 

Quoting William Ford Gibson, Ms Lifshitz noted “The future is already here.  It is just not evenly distributed”.  She noted that Israel as the Start-Up Nation was in reality a “Start-up Metropolis”, given the central location of most high-tech innovation hubs.  By shifting this into desert areas, Arab, Bedouin, Ultra-religious Jewish communities and lower socio-economic markets were all extended opportunity to be part of the hi-tech revolution.  Given the skills shortage in hi-tech, the program is welcomed and embraced by business. 

Mr Adam Levin, Partner, Jackson McDonald and Ms Dafna Lifshitz, Chief Executive Officer, Appleseeds Academy

“We are now closing the gap” Ms Lifshitz proudly remarked.  We have more than 5,000 graduates in Israel with new developments including the development of an IOT hub and a new school for programmers in the mixed population town of Ramle.

Appleseeds has extended beyond Israel and now operates in six African nations.  Net@ alumni join with others to replicate and extend the educational models, and future support programs to upgrade and install hardware.  “We can change the landscape of a Country” said Ms Lifshitz.  “But we cannot do it alone.  We need the contribution of people who share an interest in equality.”  

Host Mr Adam Levin, Tax and Commercial Partner of Jackson McDonald facilitated dialogue with Ms Lifshitz, to further discuss the motivations and accomplishments of Appleseeds.  Inviting Mr Gordon Cole into the discussion, insight was provided into the comparative approaches that sit within Australia’s indigenous business community.  Mr Cole, inaugural Chair of the Noonger Chamber of Commerce, talked of the traditional and non-traditional approaches to innovation and new business development, and sharing examples of how new initiative and innovative business development is being embraced by our indigenous communities. 



Mr Gordon Cole, Chairman, Noongar Chamber of Commerce, Mr Adam Levin, Partner, Jackson McDonald and Ms Dafna Lifshitz, Chief Executive Officer, Appleseeds Academy

Mr Adam Levin and Mr Gordon Cole formally launched a trade delegation that they will co-host in September 2017.  Drawing inspiration from Ms Lifshitz, Mr Cole had discovered newfound purpose within his own digital business strategy, and saw particular merit in the educational approach and accomplishments of Appleseeds.  It was left only for Ms Lifshitz to personally invite the Indigenous Business Sector Trade Delegation to visit her in Israel and to form further alliances and assist Australia’s indigenous business sector to embrace new hi-tech skills development.

Mr Rohan McDougall, Director, IP Commercialisation, Curtin University

Ms Dafna Lifshitz, Chief Executive Officer, Appleseeds Academy and Mr John Cluer, Chief Executive, Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce (WA)

AICC(WA) Staff & Executive:

From L to R:  Ms Carol Wallbank – Special Projects, Mr Andrew Blitz - Special Projects, Mr Graham Laitt - President, Ms Jan Bryson - Sponsorship Development, Mr John Cluer, Chief Executive, Ms Diane Horwitz, Executive Administration, Ms Caroline James, Event Management, Mr Paul Israel, Executive Director, Israel-Australia Chamber of Commerce– Israel, Ms Janie Walton - Membership Promotion




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