Starting in November, graduates of the first course of studies at the school for jewelry crafting will become employees of the YVEL Jewelry Factory and the Megemeria social business enterprise.
After a year and a half of learning the secrets of jewelry crafting and producing exquisite collections purchased and worn by countless women in Israel and abroad, 21 Ethiopian immigrants to Israel have announced that Isaac and Orna Levy, the owners of the successful jewelry factory YVEL are keeping their promise, in full. The Levys, who established both the school and the social business enterprise Megemeria (which operates in the context of the school and is run jointly by the Levys and the NGO YEDID), will be absorbing this wave of graduates as regular employees at their factory, starting in early November.
In the words of Orna Levy, CEO of YVEL: “I am happy and excited that we have kept our promise, and are able today to give 21 Ethiopian families the possibility of being proud that they are a part of Israeli society. I hope that other companies will follow in our footsteps and develop more social business enterprises for vulnerable sectors of society.”
Sari Revkin, Executive director of YEDID, has been a part of the story of the immigration and absorption of Ethiopian immigrants since the 80s. She says that it’s no simple thing to find a real connection between a profitable and successful business and the establishment, with the joint participation of YEDID, of a project that produces genuine occupational security to employees while maintaining and ensuring their rights. According to Revkin, this model is one that the Israeli government must consider, in terms of how it can fit programs like this elsewhere into the economy, to promote the absorption of immigrants from Ethiopia and other countries.
As mentioned, in early November, 21 recent graduates of the jewelry crafting school’s first course of study will become regular employees at the YVEL factory or at the social business enterprise, Megemeria. These graduates intend to assist students currently enrolled in the second course of study at the school, which begins in the middle of November. The graduates of the second wave are also expected to be absorbed into employment at either the YVEL factory or Megemeria.
Megemeria is also the name of the jewelry crafting school, which offers the opportunity to acquire a profession to members of the Ethiopian community, most of whom arrive in Israel with neither property nor education. The school also provides students with the support of a Hebrew teacher, a social worker, and an additional support network unrelated to the school’s professional studies.
The school is run by Orna and Isaac Levy, owners of the international jewelry factory YVEL, and was established because the Levys wanted to contribute something to the community. Their first thought was to establish a school that would teach jewelry crafting to members of the Ethiopian community, and then to have the graduates work at the family jewelry factory, which exports most of its collection worldwide. For Isaac, whose family immigrated toIsrael 50 years ago from Argentina, helping new immigrants take their first steps in Israel was the completion of a circle.
One year after the project began, with seven graduates already employed at YVEL, the Levy couple decided to develop it into a social business enterprise. For this reason, they turned to the NGO YEDID, which promotes employment amongst low-income sectors of society. The proposed joining forces in running the school and in helping to transform it into a social business enterprise.
To that end, a new company by the name of Megemeria was established as a social business, the profits of which are funneled back into the school in order to expand it, to create new jobs for the graduates (Ethiopian immigrants), and to assist members of the Ethiopian community living in Jerusalem and surrounding areas.
The meaning of the Amharic word Megemeria, incidentally, is “genesis” or “formation”.