Recipients in focus

If you follow this sort of thing, you would know by now that the ROI Community, a project of the Schusterman Foundation, announced last week the recipients of $500,000 in grants:

Today the ROI Community announced that nearly $500,000 will be awarded to 35 initiatives led by ROI Community members through ROI’s Grants program. Hailing from 11 countries, the projects range from early to mid-stages of development and are diverse in subject matter, tackling issues such as global Jewish identity, social justice, Jewish education and inclusivity… The 35 finalists were chosen from a pool of over 120 applications that were submitted by ROI members who attended at least one of the organization’s international gatherings, including the annual ROI Summit that has taken place in Israel every July since 2006.

Given that we have always loved the work of the ROI Community and that we have more than a passing familiarity with many of the recipients, we figured we’d feature some of the winning projects. Think of this series as an intimate look at the cutting edge in Jewish innovation! And first on the mike is… well, you read the title, so you know. It’s Manuela Zoninshein. Manuela has spent the last couple of years in Beijing where she worked as a reporter. So we asked her a couple of questions about Agrigate.

CK: Can you tell us a bit about your Agrigate project?
MZ: AgriGate, a business intelligence newsletter, is positioning itself as the gateway to understanding the business of agricultural technology (“agtech”) in China. We provide a monthly publication filled with news and information focused on the key organizations, leaders, policies and innovations in this field. The publication will enable Israeli and American businesses, technologies and actors to compete in the Chinese agtech market.

More after the bump!

Why do you think Agrigate got funding?
In case you haven’t heard, China is sort of a big deal right now. Agriculture constitutes nearly 12 percent of China’s GDP and employs 300 million, or half the country’s labor supply. Arable land has reached capacity in China, yet environmental degradation and evolving consumption habits mean that land must be more efficiently and sustainably utilized. Israeli companies have the world-class agtech expertise and know-how that China needs. Chinese companies, government and scientists could benefit greatly from Israel’s expertise and technology in this sector.

AgriGate sees this as an opportunity to help both parties. We seek to provide critical information that will allow Israeli companies to enter the Chinese agtech market, establishing closer ties with this emerging world power. Additionally, AgriGate strives to provide information to investors that will help China be able to more effectively, efficiently, and sustainably promote development in their rural areas.

What are the next steps you plan on taking in order to make Agrigate come to fruition?
We’re in the process of updating our website, which we’ll start populating with content from all over China, and where everyone can access our newsletter. Given our network of reporters based in China, AgriGate can provide cutting-edge information that no one else can: what is happening in the agriculture, agtech and cleantech market right now. That is what will really enable us to succeed.

Additionally, AgriGate is developing collaborative and complementary relationships with various information providers, such as the Gerson-Lehrman Group and the Israel-Asia Center. We intend to set up relationships with think tanks and chambers of commerce as well. These relationships will help us to better position ourselves as an authority in the marketplace, and these also help to inform our publication.

How do you think being at the ROI summit helped move this great idea of yours along?
The ROI summit gave me the confidence to move forward with the project. The more people I told about AgriGate, the more positive feedback I received. In addition, joining a community of eager entrepreneurs rubbed off on me: the risks seemed smaller and smaller, and the need for this sort of information service became all the more apparent.

Thanks Manuela! I hadn’t realized what a big deal China was!
Yes you did David.

I was just jerking your chain.
This isn’t going in the interview is it?


For more info on Manuela and Agrigate, check out this video interview by Those people have a good nose for Jewish innovation! And stay tuned for more profiles of ROI grantees!

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About the author


Founder and Publisher of Jewlicious, David Abitbol lives in Jerusalem with his wife, newborn daughter and toddler son. Blogging as "ck" he's been blocked on twitter by the right and the left, so he's doing something right.