New emergency fund to provide a lifeline to Israeli nonprofits affected by coronavirus

Nonprofit lender Ogen, Jewish Agency for Israel launch 'Emergency Fund for Nonprofits,' providing consulting services, low-interest loans

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

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Ogen – Social Loan Fund, a not-for-profit lending fund and The Jewish Agency for Israel are launching the Emergency Fund for Nonprofits to assist nonprofit organizations suffering financially from the coronavirus crisis. The program includes provisions for immediate loans at a three percent interest rate, with no requirement for guarantors, along with financial consulting services that will help these organizations to stay afloat.

To finance the initiative, Ogen – formerly known as the Israel Free Loan Association – has allocated 30 million NIS ($8,425,053) in lending capital for the loans. The Jewish Agency has allocated an additional three million NIS ($842,505) from philanthropic sources toward guaranteeing the loans. The two organizations have also raised another three million NIS from Ogen donors, including the Migdal Group.

Ogen and The Jewish Agency will continue working on expanding the budget of the loan fund and recruiting additional partners, including the Israeli government and philanthropic organizations in Israel and abroad.

The initiative aims to operate throughout the crisis period, offering loans of up to 400,000 NIS ($112,322) for a period of up to 60 months, with a six-month grace period and without guarantors.

The initiative will include mentoring and financial consulting services designed to help the CEOs of nonprofit organizations plan for the many challenges expected ahead. These services will be provided thanks to Keren-Shemesh (part of the Ogen Group), The Jewish Agency, and the Israel Venture Network (IVN), and will include advice on balancing budgets, fundraising, consolidating and adjusting services, and creating an emergency plan for the next 18 months.

There are around 16,000 nonprofit organizations in Israel. They employ hundreds of thousands of people – accounting for 16% of Israel’s labor force – and provide social, educational and other welfare services worth billions of shekels every year. Nonprofits account for six percent of Israel’s GDP.

Since the coronavirus crisis in Israel began at the beginning of March, tens of thousands of employees at nonprofit organizations have been laid off. There has been a dramatic surge in the number of organizations seeking emergency loans, including nonprofits that serve at-risk youth, battered women, the elderly, people with disabilities, populations with special needs, and more.

The coronavirus crisis and its negative economic impact have hit nonprofit organizations in Israel at a time when they were already especially vulnerable, and pose a real existential threat. Following three national elections and in the absence of a national budget for 2020, the nonprofit sector has been operating under conditions of uncertainty that affect its ability to provide even basic services. The COVID-19 shutdown has only increased this uncertainty. The nonprofit community is further under threat because drops in the stock market are expected to affect private donors and foundations, upon whom the organizations rely for their fundraising.

In partnership with The Jewish Agency, Ogen - Social Loan Fund will offer loans to address a variety of needs, with a concessionary interest rate of only three percent, and without requiring guarantors, via a simple online process. The organizations will have to submit a short financial statement demonstrating their stability and ability to repay the funds, prepared with assistance by a business consultant or mentor provided by Keren-Shemesh, which has created a new program specifically for this purpose, in partnership with The Jewish Agency and IVN.

In addition to emergency loans for five years with a six-month grace period, Ogen is also offering bridge loans payable within 12 months, secured against government agreements, grants or other non-government funding commitments.

The special terms for these loans were made possible by generous support from Bob and Trudy Gottesman, P.E.F. Israel Endowment Funds, Lillian and Moris Tabacinic, The Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) and the Federations of New York, Greater Miami, Detroit and Pittsburgh, and by Israeli supporters the Migdal Group, Boaz Raam and Shuki Ehrlich.

Applications for loans are available via the Ogen website, and phone inquiries may be made as well.

CEO of Ogen Group, Sagi Balasha, said that, “Nonprofit organizations account for six percent of Israel’s GDP, make enormous social and economic contributions to Israel’s economy. They employ hundreds of thousands of people and are a central pillar of support to vulnerable populations, in the education of Israel’s children, in the preservation of Israel’s cultural institutions and museums, in all aspects of life. We must do everything we can to maintain their important work and help them get through this crisis.”

CEO of The Jewish Agency, Amira Ahronoviz, said “Israeli society cannot allow nonprofit activity to stop, especially at a time when many people are in real need of these services. I’m glad the Jewish communities of North America responded to our call with such great generosity. We saw eye-to-eye on the importance of this process, and they generously opened their hearts to make it possible.”



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