“We own a business and it has always supported us, but due to changes in the economy it is now losing money every day. Can you help us?”
“My marriage is breaking under the strain of our financial situation. We are looking for side jobs to increase our income. Where should we look?”
“My husband has an Ivy League education and is one of the smartest people I have ever met; He can’t seem to find work though. Can you help connect us with people who can use his skills?”
As you read this there are thousands of people asking questions like the ones above. We know. The quotes above are a small sampling of the requests for help we get daily at the Parnassah Network office.
We as a community face a unique financial reality. If you factor tuition, childcare costs, Chagim and other expenses you will find that it is not unusual for a 25 year old in our community to find him or herself married and in a situation where they have to earn between 50 and 100k a year to break even, and many times they have to do this without more than a high school education. When you consider that by 35 years old it is not uncommon for someone to have 5 children the crushing financial situation that is carried by members of our community at all stages becomes obvious.
Compounding the issue is the fact that even for the many of us who do have a college education the numbers still don’t add up. The median income for College educated people in the U.S. who have earned a Bachelors degree is 51k annually. The median income for those holding a Doctorate or Professional degree is 71k and 82k respectively. While for the United States at large these numbers are not good, for the Frum world they are disastrous; none of these numbers can sustain a Frum family of 5 comfortably or even pay for necessities.
New business owners face an even bleaker picture, an astounding 90% of startups fail within the first few years of launching primarily due to issues raising and maintaining capital.
On the flip side we find ourselves in an Economy that is changing at a rapid rate due to the influence of various technologies and innovations: Market research that would have taken weeks a few years ago can now be done in minutes, an ambitious entrepreneur can promote himself in front of the world from the comfort his living room, business owners can interact with their customers instantly from wherever they are and due to the ability of people to work remotely and market themselves a staggering 34% of Americans are freelancers. That's over 53 million people in the U.S alone.
The implications that all of this has for our community are amazing, You can hire people in India to do market research for you with the push of a button. You can operate an office in Jerusalem while sitting in your kitchen in Lakewood N.J.
Never in history has there been a time so ripe with opportunity and promise; so you have to ask yourself, why do we find ourselves with thousands of hardworking and intelligent people unable to make ends meet?
Why when we live within a tight knit community in a time when even the world at large has shrunk to the point where 54 million of the American workforce can support themselves as freelancers can we not seem to be able to sustain ourselves?
Why in a time with more opportunity and promise than any time in our history are so many marriages being destroyed by financial strain?
The answer lies in the fact that until Parnassah Network there has been a lack of a centralized communal infrastructure to properly address the full breadth of this issue, and now that we are here there seems to be a lack of awareness as to the what and why of what we do. Our infrastructure is much more than courses and job creation, as we saw above in many cases education and jobs alone are not enough to create the financial conditions necessary to sustain a Frum family.
We are an organization that is committed to addressing all aspects of the unique financial situation our community faces. An infrastructure that provides a platform to help navigate, direct and connect people with the opportunities they need to be successful. A framework that provides local leaders with the ability to spearhead initiatives that help foster economic growth and wellbeing in their respective communities across the world, and a place that everyone at every stage and every level of their financial life can turn to when they are looking for opportunities, help, or guidance.
With 14 divisions our network is a one stop shop people can turn to for all aspects related to increasing their financial success. Those who are just starting out can turn to our Parnassah Coaching for training and guidance and experienced business owners looking to build connections can attend one of our local world class networking events. Our Woman in the Workforce division is dedicated to empowering working women by helping to provide the necessary support, networking and skills needed to accelerate their careers and our Chamber of Commerce serves as a resource that allows business owners to network their expertise and services, and gain new customers, skills and resources.
Our goal is to address the Emergencies of the day while also focusing on creating long term solutions. We understand that success is not only measured by immediate results and that real success is created when we address core issues and create lasting growth.
On march 3rd we celebrated the first Anniversary of the launch of the Orthodox Jewish Chamber of Commerce. In one year the Chamber has grown from a theoretical concept to a Powerhouse that represents more than 900 businesses across the globe and has proven to be a resource for thousands more. In the past few years we have hosted seminars, networking events and programs that have helped over 18000 people from around the world bring positive change to their financial lives.
The power we can have and the good we can create if people from all walks of the Jewish community who have the drive and passion to make positive change both for themselves and their communities stand together is incalculable. Whether you are a community leader, a successful small business owner or somebody just starting out, if we stand together we can create more opportunity, foster more growth and generate more wealth than any of us could ever hope to create alone.