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Jacob Korenblum

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Early in the 2000s, Jacob Korenblum visited the Middle East and became aware of a startling circumstance: the absence of an internet connection. This unexpected development posed a challenge and a chance for greater economic freedom in the region. Due to the poor network coverage and exorbitant prices, getting a dependable internet connection was out of the question for many families, especially in Palestine. Korenblum observed that around 80% of the populace used mobile devices simultaneously. Numerous developing nations around the world had the same issue. Despite the lack of widespread internet access, mobile device usage was high. Jacob co-founded an NPO in 2005 called Souktel, derived from the Arabic terms for "telephone" and "market." With the help of SMS rather than the internet, this social enterprise aimed to link employers and job seekers. Korenblum assisted thousands of Palestinians who used mobile devices to connect with regional job prospects through Souktel. He spent over ten years assisting the social initiative in helping it establish itself as a reliable partner in many nations, serving over 500,000 users across about 30 countries. Also, the group collaborated with partners to create many social initiatives, from assisting local communities in accessing free legal counsel to enabling women in the Middle East to seek careers outside the house. In 2018, Jacob Korenblum changed the focus of his professional interests from non-profit management to the public and private sectors. For the Ontario government, Korenblum oversaw the creation of digital policy from 2018 to 2021. In this capacity, he assisted the Ontario Digital Service in creating regulations that facilitated providing simpler, quicker, and better digital services to Ontarians, including COVID services that later spread to the rest of Canada.