Sometimes a person’s best ideas are generated around 3 a.m., while hanging out with friends in your freshman residence hall.
At least this was the case for Sasha Gribov and Eitan Ingall, the co-founders of TAMID Israel Investment Group, a student-led nonprofit organization aiming to bridge the gap between American business students and the Israeli economy.
“We’ve started something that we think could revolutionize the connection between our generation of business students and the state of Israel,” said Gribov, a Business junior. Ingall is an LSA junior concentrating in organizational studies.
Gribov added that the group’s members were motivated to create this opportunity for students, out of their love for Israel.
“Israel is a huge part of our identity and who we are as young people, as Americans and as Jews and we wanted to create something that would facilitate that connection for other members of our generation,” he said.
At the beginning of this semester, 20 freshmen and sophomores with a shared interest in business and Israel joined forces with TAMID’s 15-member executive board to create the group’s first membership class.
Business junior Garrett Levenbrook, a member of TAMID’s executive board, said the organization helps fill a vacuum on campus.
“We looked around campus and saw that if you wanted to connect to Israel you could do so politically, you could do so religiously, but there was never a channel to connect with Israel economically from a business stand point,” Levenbrook said.
Members of TAMID participate in a three-part program that includes education, fund management and fellowship.
Business junior Elianna Starr, another member of TAMID’s executive board, said members are currently involved in the educational program. Students attend weekly seminars led by University professors and Israeli professionals to learn about basic investing skills and the structure of the Israeli economy. Students also participate in debriefing sessions that emphasize Israeli cultural events.
Brandon Lebowitz, a TAMID member and a freshman who will be attending the Ross School of Business in the fall, said he has learned about everything from social entrepreneurship to Israeli venture capitalists from the seminars.
“We’ve had seminars where we’ve actually talked to business leaders in Israel, and it’s really interesting to hear what they think about business,” he said.
In the fund management phase during the next year, Levenbrook said students will use the knowledge they have acquired to begin investing in Israeli securities.
He said in the third phase, students will be given a $5,000 scholarship, funded through donations and private investors, to spend the summer in Israel interning for Israeli companies, performing community service activities and traveling the country.
Business School Associate Prof. Reuven Lehavy, TAMID’s faculty advisor, said the group’s goal fits in well with the Business School’s curriculum.
“There is a pretty substantial educational benefit in terms of practicing some of the concepts we are teaching in the Business School,” Lehavy said.
Levenbrook said students’ involvement in the group doesn’t end after they go abroad. Once they return from Israel, students have the opportunity to further build their leadership skills.
“They are given the chance to come onto the executive board and manage the future pools of applicants,” he said.
At the moment, TAMID is in the process of raising capital. Gribov said they aspire to raise $1 million in the next year through donations and private investors. The money raised will help to sustain TAMID’s presence at the University and will be used primarily as scholarship money to send members abroad.
Gribov said he hopes TAMID will become a national network of young American business leaders with a vested commitment to Israel.
“We expect in the next five years we are going to have chapters sprouting up all over the nation,” Gribov said.