Solomon Gevey recently launched the Haile Venture Capital Fund. This is the first investment vehicle for pre-seed startups with disruptive technologies where at least one founder is from Israel's Ethiopian community.
Haile In Amharic, it means “within my power.” Juvey wants to enable his fellow Israeli-Ethiopians to explore high-tech entrepreneurship, a path not taken by most but one he is pioneering.
In 2019, he founded IEA (Israel, Ethiopia, USA), a consultancy company that facilitates projects between Israeli startups and some American companies in developed African countries such as Nigeria, South Africa, and Ethiopia.
In 2021, he and two Israeli-Ethiopian co-founders launched MetekuAI, which fights fake news and disinformation on social media by automatically generating and distributing trusted content powered by AI .
“Like any startup, the company is currently facing challenges,” he admits. “I’m still a partner there, but I took a step back to focus on this new passion of mine.”
Gevey said about 2,000 Israeli-Ethiopian professionals are currently integrated into high-tech companies, but none are in top management positions.
“We have real potential in terms of talent and things are getting better every year, but we are still in our infancy in terms of entrepreneurship,” he says.
Compared to efforts to encourage entrepreneurship among Haredim (ultra-Orthodox Jews), Arabs and women, “the public and private sectors haven't committed the resources to make that happen,” he says.
This summer, Haile plans to open an entrepreneurship and acceleration program at Reichman University's Google and Reichman Tech School with support from the Israel Innovation Authority. Geveye currently has 13 early-stage companies in its pipeline seeking pre-seed investment.
Among them is GoatPlay, a sports technology startup that brings advanced Internet of Things (IoT) to playground games. torado, an AI-powered e-commerce platform that allows buyers and sellers to manage their money simply and transparently. Health tech startup Inhalify allows parents to continuously monitor their child's inhaler usage and allows doctors to create a personalized treatment plan.
Juvey, now 38, was airlifted to Israel with his family in 1991 during an operation that brought more than 14,300 Ethiopian Jews to a historic homeland they had never seen but had always dreamed of. I was 6 years old at the time.
A gifted student, he studied economics at Ariel University through the academic preparatory program of Atidim (Futures), an organization that helps talented youth from underserved and marginalized communities pursue meaningful careers. I received a degree in science.
After graduating and undergoing officer training in the Israel Defense Forces, he served for seven and a half years as an economist in the Israel Defense Forces. He earned a master's degree in business administration in the process.
“About 300 economists manage the entire IDF budget,” he told ISRAEL21c. “It was a tough and amazing experience to be dealing with a multi-million dollar budget and talking to a brigadier general at such an early age. It was like jumping into deep water.”
After completing his commission with the rank of captain in 2014, Mr. Juvey married and moved to California, where his wife earned an MBA while he worked in the financial industry and ran a high-end security company.
“We were planning to go back to Israel someday, but we came back in early 2019, five and a half years later, because my mother was sick and I wanted to take care of her,” Juvey said. say. “She wasn't far away when she passed away and she's grateful she was here.”
Juvey said his wife is of Iraqi and Romanian descent, so their three young children are racially mixed. But he believes that if you follow his example of working hard to achieve your goals, you can prosper in Israel unhindered by discrimination.
But he acknowledges that Ethiopian immigrants face many obstacles, and prejudice is one of them.
“In my opinion, I experienced some racist incidents as a child and in school, but it was not systemic, and it was against my former Moroccans, Yemenis, and in some ways Russians. “I think that's also what happened. Israel hasn't really learned how to absorb immigrants, especially immigrants from weaker economic backgrounds,” he says.
At the same time, overcoming difficulties also includes a glimmer of hope. “Research shows that immigrants who have experienced adjustment difficulties are equipped with valuable skills and characteristics that enable them to succeed as entrepreneurs, including adaptability, resilience, and a higher tolerance for risk.”
These characteristics are important to Juvey himself as he seeks to attract investment to Haile at a difficult time for Israel.
“Until the war started, we were in talks with VCs and angel investors to help us. Because of the war, we are now having some problems with funding. The Israel Innovation Authority has not been able to provide us with the full budget that we expected, and other partners are reconsidering their investments,” he explains.
“We are $150,000 short to start the program this July. We are optimistic and are still looking for backers to join us. We hope to make it happen. We put a lot of effort into it.”
Iffat Ravi, a member of the Haile Advisory Board, has a PhD in biomedical engineering and 25 years of experience in the medical device industry and entrepreneurship. This has the potential to generate new creativity.” For them, it's a social change. ”
Ravi is also a technology examiner for the Israel Innovation Authority and a board member of the Haile Partner organization Tech Careers, which trains Israeli-Ethiopians for jobs in high-tech fields.
She told ISRAEL21c that she would like to see some of the thousands of computer science and engineering graduates in the community already employed in the high-tech industry become managers at their companies.
“The goal is not just to found a startup, but to progress from a junior role to a more leading role,” she explains.
“I believe that the high-tech industry is the engine of the Israeli economy. When I was younger, everyone said that the military was the best field for integration, but now I think the high-tech industry .”
For more information, contact Geveye on LinkedIn.