Irad Eichler

Organization: 
Shekulo Tov
Year founded: 
2004
Country: 
Israel
Website: 

Shekulo Tov specializes in providing occupational rehabilitation services for the mentally handicapped in Israel so they can become equal members of society.

Focus: Disabilities
Geographic Area of Impact: Israel
Model: Hybrid Non-Profit
Number of Direct Beneficiaries: 80 employees, 1,500 rehabilitated persons (2009)
Annual Budget: US$ 4,956,112 (2008)
Percentage Earned Revenue: 100%
Recognition: Social Entrepreneurs of the Year, Israel, 2009

Background
In 2001 Israel passed the Mental Health Rehabilitation Law, enabling NGOs to participate in the rehabilitation of the mentally handicapped. In most cases however, the rehabilitation programmes are inadequate and lack the necessary creativity to provide the mentally handicapped with a feeling of self-worth, equality and dignity as workers. Shekulo Tov was founded against this backdrop in the belief that every person has the right to be fully integrated into the community. Through its jobs programme Shekulo Tov has changed attitudes about rehabilitating the mentally handicapped in Israel.

Innovation and Activities
Shekulo Tov made a breakthrough in the rehabilitation of the mentally handicapped through its vision and belief that the mentally handicapped can be independent people who take responsibility for their lives. Shekulo Tov applies a business approach to its activity and bases its existence on a model of business relationships rather than on donations. It has created a social consumer platform by branding its products, known for their high quality, with a label that explains the manufacture of each product, and by distributing them through leading market channels.

Shekulo Tov operates nine enterprises and ventures, and 80 sales points in eight regions of Israel. It provides employment and rehabilitation services for 1,400 mentally handicapped persons, as well as a range of cultural and recreational initiatives for 700 additional rehabilitants, including regular trips throughout Israel, bicycling groups and coffee shop gatherings. Among the nine enterprises are: Creating an Opportunity, a project that operates 85 sales stands for social consumerism at malls and employs 600 people; Paper Work, a joint Jewish-Arab enterprise that designs products from recycled paper and employs 234 people in three factories; Creative Imagination, a plant that manufactures original children’s toys and employs 75 people; and Sweets, a plant that produces uniquely designed confectionaries and employs 100 people.

These models have created employment criteria that have been adopted by the Ministry of Health, and are now becoming part of the work procedures for rehabilitation of the mentally handicapped in Israel. Although the ventures of Shekulo Tov are in the fields of employment and recreation, those who participate in the rehabilitation programmes experience changes in every aspect of their lives. In addition to the positive changes in livelihood, they also undergo changes in their interpersonal relations; communication skills improve, relations with their close family are tightened, and even their standing in the family is enhanced.

The Entrepreneurs
Shekulo Tov was founded by Irad Eichler, who originally studied criminology and sociology, with a specialization in anthropology. During his studies he began to work at the Rihan Hostel for young girls at risk, as a guide for the Rosh Ha’Ayin Scouts and a coordinator at hostels for the mentally handicapped.

Shekulo Tov's CEO Offer Cohen joined the group from the business and food industry world, where he served in various executive positions. His last position was COO of the Erez Bread bakery chain, where he was responsible for all operations and logistics of stores and cafes.