Hareidi Women in the Service of Israeli Hi-Tech
For the past decade or so, outsourcing has become sort of a holy grail for business. The more work you could export abroad to low-cost work environment (read: India or Eastern Europe), the more money your company could save.
While this strategy may make sense for manufacturers of say, widgets, it's not a good strategy for companies or entrepreneurs who need help developing computer programs. Not that many haven't tried; but more often than not, individuals who have tried to outsource programming work to save money have found that they “paid” for those savings in extra frustration, with programmers whose work leaves much to be desired, to say the least.
But there is an “outsourcing” alternative for the entrepreneur seeking to save money - “exporting” work to, of all places, Bnei Brak, where a staff of Hareidi woman – courtesy of a company called i-Rox – will happily develop and build projects in almost any area of computer programming, from internet applications to commercial database projects.
I-rox is run by two women – Ruti Margalit, a Hareidi woman from Bnei Brak, and Yehudit Suissa, a secular woman from Shoham, who started the company about five years ago, I-Rox now has about 80 employees, all of them Hareidi women with families who preferred to go into programming as a method of earning money, instead of the usual career options available in their communities, such as teaching or secretarial work. All of the women have gone through training courses sponsored by colleges and universities, while several have advanced degrees.
“Many of the women who work here are the chief breadwinners for their house, with their husbands in many cases learning or teaching in Yeshiva,” says Suissa. “It's a perfect solution for members of the ultra-Orthodox community, who would not feel comfortable working in a secular environment. A few years ago, you had maybe 20 women a year who graduated from programming training course. But today, because of i-Rox and a few other companies who employ Hareidi women, over 160 women will get degrees in programming this year.”
Besides helping out the Hareidi community, i-Rox benefits clients as well. “Many companies that had hoped to save money by outsourcing their work to India or Eastern Europe were bitterly disappointed when they found out that they actually hadn't saved any money – and had all sorts of difficulties communicating with staff because of time and culture differences. We offer an elegant and professional solution to companies that want to save money on programming costs, but don't want the hassle that comes with outsourcing abroad,” Suissa says.