Mordechai Orenstein

Mifalot Education and Society
Year founded: 

Mifalot harnesses the power of sport to instil positive values, affect social change and unify Israel’s marginalized communities.

Focus: Sport, Education, Children and Youth
Geographic Area of Impact: Israel
Model: Hybrid Non-Profit
Number of Direct Beneficiaries: 20,000 (2010)
Annual Budget: US$ 3,826,600
Recognition: Social Entrepreneur of the Year, Israel, 2011

From its beginning, Israeli society has been marked by educational and social inequality between the periphery and the central urban areas, between the Jewish and non-Jewish communities, and between new immigrants and more established citizens. As the inequalities between these groups widened over the years, many entrepreneurs have searched for opportunities to unite, integrate and establish greater equality to the society as a whole. The founders of Mifalot have taken the idea of sport, particularly football, to work with the youngest generations and unify the country both on and off the field.

Innovation and Activities
Mifalot Education and Society is active in 250 Jewish and non-Jewish communities nationwide in Israel, mostly in the communities that have long remained on the margins of Israeli society and borne the burden of social and economic inequalities. Working evenly between Jewish and non-Jewish communities, Mifalot reaches more than 20,000 children ages 3-21 through eight different sport-for-social change programmes. These not only provide free equipment and coaching, but also citizenship and values education, enabling youth as local change agents and collaborative team leaders.

In its earliest days Mifalot sought to bring some of Israel’s most renowned and influential football stars into direct interaction and mentorship with disadvantaged youth, and has trained and used thousands of coaches, chosen based upon educational criteria and commitment to social equality, to work with its youth.

As the programmes target marginalized communities, it is critical for Mifalot to fully mobilize local support networks to sustain the goals of the sport and education programmes. Therefore Mifalot engages local small and medium enterprises to sponsor youth teams, which encourages local economies and provides a mechanism for the private sector to champion the next generation. Mifalot local partners usually finance 50% of the activities in their respective regions, and municipal authorities express eagerness to cooperate under such a scheme since the costs are lower than public sport and education programmes. This is largely due to Mifalot’s use of highly-motivated young coaches and staff who serve on a rotating basis.

Since its inception Mifalot has provided mentoring, sport and education programming to about 150,000 children and at-risk youth in Jewish and non-Jewish communities, as well as children and adults with special needs. Mifalot’s activities have been exported to Congo, Rwanda, Cameroon and Haiti, with plans for expansion to other regions in the near future.

The Entrepreneurs
Moti Orenstein and Moshe Theumim have worked together for many years, first meeting in the Israel Scouts in 1966, when Theumim was a scout leader and Orenstein joined the troop as a guide. Later the friends had the opportunity to acquire the financially-troubled Hapoel Tel Aviv Football Club. Theumim had been a fan of the team for many years, and although Orensten was a fan of the rival Maccabi Tel Aviv Football Club, they decided to jointly acquire Hapoel in order to create a platform for social activity through sport, a concept that was missing in Israel’s poor and marginalized communities. They soon approached their good friend, Sammy Segol, and together the three developed their idea into what is now Mifalot.