28 Jun No Limits with SparkIL
No Limits with SparkIL
Gilat’s sports studio serving Haredi kids in her local community in Israel is thriving thanks in part to a loan from SparkIL, The Jewish Agency and The Ogen Group’s crowdfunding lending platform.
Dance and sports have long been an integral part of Gilat’s life. Growing up in Israel, she danced multiple times a week before beginning her two-year army service in the Israel Defense Forces at age 18, rising to the position of commander. After the army, she wanted to get back into dance so she joined a Latin/Spanish dance troupe and entered the flamenco world, prompting her to move to Spain for a year and a half, before she returned to Israel to attend university.
“Once I finished my studies, I started teaching aerobics and step, and learned specifically how to be a trainer for kids as I’ve always enjoyed teaching and interacting with them,” recalled Gilat. “Then at age 25, I started to change my life as I became more religious. At the same time, I met my husband who was a musician from Paris and not Jewish. He decided to change his life too and converted. A year after we met, we were married. Today, we are Haredi and live in Givat Ze’ev, northwest of Jerusalem, with our kids.”
Though she is now a practicing Haredi Jew, Gilat remains passionate about dance and sports and noticed a severe lack of both, or any sort of real organized physical activities, in the Haredi community. So she thought, “Why not create a business that would fill this need?” Thus, Studio Ayalot was born, with a mission to provide high-quality sports activities. But Gilat quickly realized to professionalize her studio, she needed more capital. In her search for funding options, she came across SparkIL.
A first-of-its-kind peer-to-peer lending platform established in 2022 by The Jewish Agency and The Ogen Group, SparkIL enables users around the world to participate in crowdfunding interest-free loans and support the small business of their choice in Israel. The initiative aims to allow lenders to make a real, measurable and continuing impact on entrepreneurs from underserved populations across Israel and build meaningful connections to the Jewish state.
“My goal was to give the Haredi community something they never knew; to expose them to a new world and new point of view. I wanted to make these kids happier people and help them develop, boost their self-esteem, increase their body-soul connection and promote movement,” explained Gilat. “And with the loan from SparkIL, and their overall support and belief in the Studio, I could buy the equipment we needed so we can serve this community.”
Today, Gilat’s Studio Ayalot in Givat Ze’ev offers activities including gymnastics, classic ballet, ninja warrior-type obstacle courses and more. She’s proud to use her knowledge to serve kids in a meaningful way, creating a new generation of a different type of orthodoxy. Parents rave about Gilat, seeing the difference in their kids as they are empowered physically and emotionally at the studio.
“My three kids go to activities at Studio Ayalot and so look forward to them. They’ve gained self-confidence and strength, and leave feeling good about selves,” said Tali, an olah (immigrant to Israel) from South Africa.
“It’s such a gift to be able to give these kids a new appreciation for their bodies,” Gilat shared. “I always tell them ‘There are no limits to what you can do’ and I feel that way too thanks to SparkIL. I really can’t say thank you enough – the loan changed everything.”