Engaged, energized, focused and all smiles.
It’s what one notices when looking at photos of underprivileged teenagers being coached by Avnet Israel at the nonprofit group Unistream. These are young adults who live on the periphery of central Israel and often find it difficult to learn business and management skills. But in another example of Avnet impacting communities, employees at Avnet Israel are sharing their knowledge—and empowering the innovators and business leaders of tomorrow.
Unistream was launched in 2001, the same year Avnet Israel was established. More than 700 teens across Israel are participating in a program called “Educating Tomorrow’s Leaders Today.” The aim of the program is to inspire and empower these young adults and to show them they too have a path toward business and social leadership. There are 12 Unistream centers spread throughout the country.
Ron Kremer is Avnet Israel’s chief financial officer. “Unistream approached us more than six months ago to initiate a partnership. Our participation is mainly through lectures that Avnet Israel employees are providing to the kids attending the education programs.”
Teens start the three-year Unistream program in the ninth grade. “In year three, they are supposed to have some business model ideas or some business initiative that they must present to the investment community,” says Kremer.
In the first year, the students learn the basics of business. They eagerly soak up knowledge about financial behavior and learn fundamentals in business management and marketing. The second year is filled with lectures about innovation and how to create a business plan and present that plan to investors. Kremer says year three is more about the kids working on their projects and actually presenting them to the investor community.
Avnet employees get involved by first picking a lecture topic they are passionate about. Unistream then builds a curriculum with a PowerPoint presentation and exercises for the class. But Kremer says employees may bring their own materials to present, as well.
Avnet Israel’s participation with Unistream has been a big success. “They are calling me to send more and more employees,” says Kremer, who like other Avnet employees has been inspired by these students and their eagerness to learn.
“You think about the youth of today, and they are quite interested in their iPhones and computers. Yet, here are 15-year-olds coming to sit in a class at 5 o’clock in the evening to hear a two-and-a-half hour lecture. All to break the cycle their families have been in and advance themselves,” adds Kremer.
Kremer says he was scheduled to present such a lecture on financial behavior with a break in the middle. “I stayed for a full three hours, and the kids just wanted to hear more and more. So it was really great. And this is the feedback I get from everyone who presents.”
The team from Avnet Israel is encouraged and inspired to see the youth so involved and interested in the lectures. “They are asking a lot of questions and are eager to learn how they can be the next entrepreneur. And we share with them a lot of Avnet’s best practices and we connect them to our life here at the company,” says Kremer.
Through this inspiring example of skills-based volunteerism, Avnet is helping Unistream in its efforts to enact significant social change in Israel.