ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

Shekel

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Need: Adults with special needs are often ostracized and have limited opportunities to integrate and interact with society as a whole. There exists an erroneous assumption that mental and emotional disabilities preclude any kind of integration, relegating those with disabilities to controlled environments where their abilities to contribute to society are not assessed, developed or valued. Shekel, founded in 1979, recognized that inclusion programs have vast societal benefits for the general population and those with disabilitie. As a result, Shekel piloted a social inclusion enterprise, Harutzim Bistro Café, that trains and employs adults with disabilities, integrating them with ‘normative’ professional staff. Special needs adults work as chefs, waiters, and servers in the restaurant while an investor operates the daily running of the business. The investor and Shekel jointly market and promote the Bistro, they jointly employ special needs workers, and they share the profits, contributing to Shekel’s financial independence. The Bistro has been operational for 2 years, employing 12 special needs adults, and two similarly structured cafeterias were recently opened in the city, one in the historical Smadar Movie theater in the German Colony where Shekel operates a bistro that is need of funding.