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Where the Money Is

A new website pierces the shroud on one of the most mysterious issues in Israel - money.
By TechIsrael Staff
First Publish: 1/2/2012, 10:42 PM

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If you're a college student who lives in in a town belonging Binyamin Regional Council – and you have or are currently “contributing to the community in an educational or welfare project” - you may have hit the jackpot! The Council has NIS 2,000 for you, a scholarship for your studies; all you have to do is apply.

The Binyamin Regional Council isn't the only public body that hands out scholarship money to students; you can get money from the Israel Milk Council (for students studying veterinary medicine at Hebrew University), the Molcho Foundation (for students doing research work on Negev agriculture), The Sachlav Foundation (up to 60% of tuition for four hours of classroom service weekly), or the Maccabim Foundation (for students whose families hail from Iran).

Information about scholarships – as well as student loans, car loans, mortgages, and “specials” on bank fees and the like – have always been shrouded in mystery. If you're looking to buy a car, it makes sense to take advantage of special deals being offered by dealers, or discounts on interest or terms offered by banks. The problem, of course, is getting information about the deals.

Problem solved: A new website, colorfully called “Kesef 4 U”, has all that info, and more. It's got the kind of name respectable web surfers tend to avoid, evoking thoughts of spam and internet hucksterism, but Kesef4U isn't selling anything. Although we've been conditioned by Western culture to think that money is somehow not a topic that should be raised in public – akin to discussions about a drunken relative whom we know is out there, but whom we try to avoid as much as possible – money makes the world go round, as all of us know. Why pay more for college – or for loans to pay for it, as well as for mortgage or car loan money – when you don't have to?

Kesef4U was the brainchild of veteran Israeli media figure Ben Zion Citrin (among other things he was editor of Channel One's Mabat nightly news broadcast), who says that he started the site to help Israelis get their economic houses in order.

Not that he's running a charity; the banks, insurance companies, car dealers and others presenting their specials on the site are paying for the privilege. But it's still a win-win-win; when a company runs a special, it's to attract new customers, but it no one hears about the special, there's no point to running one. So, it pays for them – and for Citrin – to advertise their specials on the site. And if customers can save a few shekels, they win too. There's no charge to use the site, and you don't have to submit any information (although there is a newsletter you can subscribe to that promises new deals before they hit the site).

And, if for nothing else, the site is invaluable for the information about scholarships and grants college students and small businesses can apply for. Without Kesef4U, for example, you would never have known that the Jerusalem Business Development Center offers up to NIS 45,000 in interest free loans to Hareidi Jews from Jerusalem and Bnei Brak to start a business – or that you can get up to NIS 3 million to start or fund a business in the Negev or Galilee from the “Droma-Tzfona Foundation.” Now you know – thanks to Kesef4U.