Left Coast Voices

"I would hurl words into the darkness and wait for an echo. If an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight." Richard Wright, American Hunger

Archive for the tag “The Portland Trust”

Microloans in Israel

I have to say it is too tempting to pass up an article that involves Kiva, a micro loan agency that I have long admired and a window of hope  between Israel and its Arab population. I have written a number of posts about microloans and what they are, so I won’t go into it here.
Desmond Bradley first picked up on this partnership between the Koret Israel Economic Development Fund (KIEDF) and the San Francisco-based non-profit organization Kiva Microfunds. You can read his article here.

This is Kiva’s first venture into Israel, it works in over 50 countries with local microloan agencies, where you can donating as little as $25 via their website. What I love about their system is the way that you can track the progress of the person/business you are helping. But enough about Kiva. As I mentioned, you can read about the organization here.
Israel has struggled since its independence with regard to its Arab and Bedouin population. As in the US, there is also a growing gap between the rich and low-income populations. This program will target Arab, Bedouin and low income Israelis.
The Koret Israel Economic Development Fund (KIEDF) has already loaned more than $177 million to 464,000 entrepreneurs over the past six years. Since 1994, KIEDF has facilitated close to $206 million in financing to almost 8,000 small and micro businesses in Israel, creating more than 40,000 jobs in the process.
Kiva needed to be convinced that Israel was a suitable candidate as it is perceived as a developed economy.
KIEDF managing director Carl Kaplan said  “It took us a couple of years to convince them that not all of Israel is like that. We persuaded them that some sections of Israeli society – notably Arab and Bedouin women – are actually Third World. It’s not a political issue.”
Bedouin woman

“We’ve already facilitated 1,800 loans to Negev businesses, mainly run by women,” says Kaplan, This initiative is sponsored in teh US by California based American Friends of Koret Israel Economic Development Funds,  and in the UK by The Portland Trust, a foundation that promotes peace and stability between Palestinians and Israelis through economic development.

Desmond Bradley sums up micro-financing superbly as “a widely used tool for fighting poverty and empowering women worldwide. Small, family-owned businesses have proven critical to the economic viability of women with limited employment opportunities.”

All  this week we have heard how the US economy is stalled, how there is no growth, how unemployment is rising. Is there a lesson to be learned here? Is anyone in ‘DC thinking outside the box?

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Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist (now available on Kindle) and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com/and on Twitter (#alonshalevsf).

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