Goldman Sachs Israel CEO: Youth entrepreneurship can combat socioeconomic disparity

Jonathan Penkin spoke to CTech at Unistream’s Entrepreneur of the Year competition about why investing in youth entrepreneurship is crucial

“I've spent about an hour walking around, seeing the most amazing inventions by young kids,” said Goldman Sachs Israel CEO Jonathan Penkin, speaking to CTech at Unistream’s Entrepreneur of the Year competition, where he was serving as a judge. “There are different groups and there's some which are prototypes and some which have been developed, but there literally are things here which I think could be invested in.”
Unistream annually trains thousands of high school students from all sectors and regions of the country in business and social entrepreneurship. The program's goal is to reduce social inequalities and create a more inclusive society through entrepreneurship and innovation among youth from underserved communities. The students are mentored by members of Israel’s tech ecosystem throughout the duration of the program.
“Whether they are successful or not, the reality is that you've got a bunch of kids here who are spending their time trying to come up with ideas, not doing bad things,” says Penkin. “This is furthering their education, keeping them stimulated about how to best improve themselves and their economic position going forward. And that's really, really impressive.”
Penkin, who is particularly concerned with socioeconomic disparity, lauded the competition for addressing one of the byproducts of the Israeli tech bubble of the past decade: extreme social and financial inequality. “We were creating a real problem in the society: the haves and the have nots, the periphery and the center, those who speak English and those who don't, those who have great math education and those who don't. And, while I was delighted to be part of that kind of tech growth in 2021 and before that, I have to say I was quite concerned about what this would lead to in terms of the structure of society. Now I'm not happy at all about where we are today in terms of investment etc. but this does give us an opportunity to catch up and to invest more in the periphery and amongst the Arab population.
“I think entrepreneurship is something which is common in this country and something to look up to, and, therefore, something we should push to solve many of the social problems and even some of the political problems.”
You can watch the full interview in the video above.