The social protests that swept Israel in the summer of 2011 gave rise not only to a new era of young, passionate leaders but also to a slew of rookie entrepreneurs. Unlike the creators of classical startups, who dream of birthing the next technological breakthrough, reaching the global market with promising products and selling the company for a fortune, these new entrepreneurs are harnessing technology to generate social change.
Noa Iacobovich is co-founder and CEO of jobs4mom.co.il, a website that connects women with jobs that allow flexible, mom-friendly schedules. She launched the site five months ago following two and a half years of design and development.
“Even though we want to make a profit, our goal is first and foremost a social one. We’re not in this for an exit,” says Iacobovich, who created the website together with Effie Hazenfratz. Yet both women, whose backgrounds are in marketing and content production and came to the project with no prior experience in Internet, see themselves as startup entrepreneurs in every way.
Today, the jobs4mom site gets 20,000 visits per month. More than 4,000 mothers have registered for job placement, 600 of whom found work at some of Israel's biggest companies, including recording technology cy NICE Systems, software house Matrix Israel and the local outlet of the Spanish clothing chain Zara.
jobs4mom is a meeting place for potential employers and job-seeking mothers – or fathers for that matter, and singles looking for work with flexible hours. It lists mom-friendly jobs – in other words, positions that offer employees flexibility in work hours, such as the ability to leave the office early twice a week – in a variety of fields and industries.
Employers list suitable jobs on their own. Like other job-search websites, jobs4mom has a “smart agent” option that sends its users e-mail alerts when relevant jobs are posted. Job-seekers can also utilize the website to send CVs to prospective employers.
Iacobovich and Hazenfratz hatched the idea five years ago, when they both were single.
“We knew so many talented, amazing mothers who couldn’t find jobs. Doors were being closed to them because they were mothers,” Iacobovich says. “We envisioned a job market that treated everyone fairly, and a greater balance between home and career.” Iacobovich claims that about 40 percent of women lie outright during job interviews or conceal the fact that they are mothers so as not to compromise their chances of being hired.
“We realized that we had a market. That’s where the idea was born,” Iacobovich says.
Last summer's cost-of-living protests brought to light the unique struggles of working mothers, giving jobs4mom a big boost.
“The timing of the cost-of-living protest was amazing. It gave us the best support we could have had. We think employers also realize that there needs to be change, and everyone will benefit from it. As a mother, I’m more efficient because I know that my time is limited and I have to get to my daughter. So I’m much more focused,” Iacobovich says.
For now, all of jobs4mom’s services – for job-seekers and employers alike – are free. The goal is to publicize a large pool of jobs on the website. In the future, Iacobovich and Hazenfratz plan to earn revenue from on-site advertising, provide a broader platform for members who want greater exposure and launch new features, such as a “Hot Jobs” section.
The website is self-funded. In the spirit of the protest and in accordance with its bare-bones management, the site is run not from a fancy office, but from Hazenfratz’s living room.
“We know that in the future, we’ll be moving to an office, but for now our budget is small," Iacobovich says. "We went live without any investors, completely out-of-pocket, because we believe in the idea."
Want to enjoy 'Zen' reading - with no ads and just the article? Subscribe todaySubscribe now