YVEL Jewelry and YEDID sign a historic social-entrepreneurial partnership to launch a unique jewelry school training Ethiopian-Israelis in the art of authentic jewelry design and production.
When Orna and Isaac Levy, owners and managers of the international jewelry company YVEL, wanted to contribute to the community, they decided to establish a school that would train Ethiopian-Israelis in the fine art of gold and silversmithing as well as integrate them into the work of their jewelry factory located in the town of Motza near the entrance to Jerusalem.
Today, a year after the project was launched and with seven graduates of the school already employed at YVEL, the Levys decided to expand their initial idea. For that purpose they approached YEDID, well-known for its programs promoting employment of low income populations, with a proposal to join them as partners in managing the school and to assist them in their transformation into a social enterprise.
More than 20 students, all new immigrants from Ethiopia, arrive every morning on organized transportation to the school, which is located on the first level of the YVEL jewelry factory, built on the same spot where the famous Motza Winery stood for several decades.
With assistance from the JDC, the Jewish Federation of San Francisco, and private donors from Israel and abroad, the students study a special gold and silversmithing program designed especially for them. At the same time they receive a full scholarship that covers their studies and living expenses and is guaranteed by Orna and Isaac Levy.
“We’ve heard many good things about YEDID,” explains Orna Levy, “and we realized that this was the most suitable organization to manage the school with us, to protect the rights of our students, and to provide them, in tandem with their gold and silversmithing studies, with Hebrew language instruction, an acquaintance with the country, and the tools for correct budget management, including teaching them about their rights in the areas of housing, health, education, and labor.”
It is the intention of YVEL to develop the school as a social enterprise under the auspices of a unique company that was formed especially for that purpose –“Megemeria” (meaning Genesis in Amharic), from which will emerge a special marketing system that will distribute the unique jewelry throughout the world while being supported by an experienced company with an existing global distributorship exporting exclusive jewelry valued at tens of millions of dollars a year.
Sari Revkin, the Executive Director of YEDID, who three years ago was the recipient of the Schwab Foundation’s Social Entrepreneurship Award, comments that “we discovered in Orna and Isaac and the entire YVEL staff, business people with the highest sense of social responsibility that one only dreams about. We are glad that we were given the opportunity to cooperate in promoting the school, and I’m convinced that in a very short time business owners in other sectors will be duplicating this model.”