Maya Gura: Department of Criminology

Meet Maya Gura, 39, an alumna of the MA program in Clinical Criminology at Bar-Ilan University's Department of Criminology, and co-founding CEO of Missbeez, one of the hottest startups making a buzz worldwide. Missbeez is a premium on-demand mobile platform enabling independent beauty industry service providers to offer their services to busy career women in their location. With some 100,000 clients in Israel, the United Kingdom and Spain, this immensely popular company, also has an important social mission. It helps hundreds of self-employed women access clients and establish a firm base for advancing their beauty care businesses.

A self-described "serial entrepreneur," Maya says she had wanted to study criminology since childhood. "Having sold my social e-commerce platform, The Gifts Project, to eBay in 2011, it was the right time to fulfill that dream," she recalls, adding that a short time later, her image recognition technology company PicScout, was acquired by Getty images.

"My Bar-Ilan experience was great," relates Maya, who also holds a BA in psychology and an MBA. "I met many smart people and acquired some friends for life. Our department was very intimate so you could always share your ideas freely. Faculty members were responsive to our needs and helpful." In particular she mentions Criminology Prof. Tomer Einat for helping her to publish her thesis about teaching illiterate prisoners reading and writing skills. "He was a great inspiration and a very interesting person to work with."

Maya took part in research conducted in two maximum-security prisons in Israel, to explore the efficacy of a unique teaching reading method, Bibliodidactics. The study found that this method, which focuses on emotional processing of text and provides meaningful contexts to learning materials, significantly improves the levels of reading among nonnative illiterate prisoners.

Maya also was pleased to have an opportunity to enrich herself via BIU's required Basic Jewish Studies courses. "I really enjoyed my Jewish heritage classes because I always felt a need for some deeper knowledge about Jewish traditions since I didn’t come from a traditional background."

Intent on making a social impact, particularly for women, Maya says the concept behind Missbeez came to her when she was working with underprivileged populations as part of her BIU graduate training. "I met a lot of disadvantaged people and identified the need for an initiative that would help them lift themselves up and transform their lives." She notes that many Missbeez service providers are single mothers or new immigrants who struggle to establish a solid clientele and provide for their families. "Our vision is to help a community of ambitious women around the globe become financially independent."

In the future Maya may return to BIU to resume her PhD studies but in the meantime, she's focused on expanding her company and working with hundreds of Missbeez service providers (90% of them women) seeking to make an honest living. "As a serial entrepreneur I aspire to create companies that use scalable technologies to do good and change the lives of millions of people."

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