Starting a business, the Israeli way


By Daniel Stieglitz

When parents send children to school, they provide them with the resources they need: pens, pencils, notebooks, a backpack and numerous other things that are part of the school experience. I recently learned that  some schools in the U.S. now provide their students with laptops, the same way I was once issued a graphing calculator. All of these tools help increase the students’ chances of success in school.

The government of Israel treats new immigrants like children entering school. The government knows that providing new immigrants with the resources they need will increase their chances of having a successful experience in Israel, and decrease the probability they will return to their native country. I’ve been in Israel for more than 10 years, and I still benefit from these resources.

Since receiving my Life Coaching certification a few years ago, it’s been my dream to start a Life Coaching practice. I’ve never considered myself to be a businessman, but in order to get the clients that will help my Life Coaching practice thrive, I need to learn how to market my practice, bill clients, pay business taxes and everything else that is necessary to run a successful business. At first I was overwhelmed. I didn’t know where to start. That’s when I was told about MATI.

MATI (which is a transliteration of the Hebrew abbreviation that stands for Business Development Center) is a nonprofit organization that first opened its doors in 1991. The wave of Russian immigrants arriving at the time had trades that needed “translating” to the Israeli environment. MATI was created to help Russian entrepreneurs with this transition. Eventually MATI expanded the breadth and scope of people it assisted, and it now provides services to immigrants from many countries, with assistance in English, French and Russian. With offices all over Israel, MATI is dedicated to helping immigrant entrepreneurs. This, of course, helps to enhance Israel’s economy.

The first of MATI’s many resources I benefit from  are its workshops. Every few weeks there is a different workshop that focuses on a crucial part of building a business: business banking in Israel, business taxation, social media and marketing, and business time management, to name a few.

At each workshop, I meet people starting a variety of businesses. Some have decided to manufacture or import products, while others want to offer services such as house cleaning, tour guiding or, like me, Life Coaching. During the workshop, we all have a chance to network, build new business connections and exchange friendly advice. Sometimes a graphic designer finds customers within the class who need content for a website, or someone starting a jewelry business will be crafting beautiful pieces while listening to the workshop.

My primary contact at MATI is Alma Zorman, who organizes each workshop and sends us e-mail reminders. Zorman is always ready with a smile and answers to questions. With a resource like MATI, there is an entire organization watching over us and guiding us through the sometimes scary journey into the world of entrepreneurship.

MATI also offers 20 free hours of business consultation. When I am ready for a business mentor, I don’t want to be assigned to someone at random. Among the speakers at the workshops I attend is Shari Wright-Pilo, a marketing professional who runs the workshops related to business marketing and social media. She genuinely seems to love educating and helping new entrepreneurs. From my first workshop with Wright-Pilo, I love her energy and enthusiasm and knew I want her to be my business mentor. I put in the request and the match is made.

Every few weeks I meet with Wright-Pilo, at which time she advises me on everything from opening a business file with the Ministry of Taxation to starting a Facebook page for my Life Coaching practice. She helps me pick a name for my practice. Advising me to KISS (“Keep it simple, stupid”), we agree on the name “Daniel Life Coach,” since it says who I am and what I do in three simple words. She and I continue to meet, and we are currently working on building my website.

As I write this article, I still have more workshops to attend and consultation hours remaining. And the added beauty of all of this? It’s FREE! I’m lucky to live in a country such as Israel, which not only encourages people to immigrate, but helps people like me, who have lived here for over a decade, to continually soften our landing.

DANIEL STIEGLITZ (, a Providence native, made aliyah in 2007. He holds a master’s degree in creative writing from Bar Ilan University; is a certified Life Coach; does freelance content writing; and lives in Jerusalem. His collection of short stories, “Tavern of the Mind,” will be published in the coming months. If you want to hear about his practice, you can reach him via email or find him on Facebook at