Together with the Jewish Federations of North America’s Social Venture Fund for Jewish-Arab Equality and Shared Society, the Center for Jewish Arab Economic Development, an Israel-based non-profit organization, we have established a new loan fund that will help small and medium-sized businesses in Jewish-Arab employment zones.
The fund is being launched with an initial investment of $200,000, which will provide loan guarantees that will permit as much as $800,000 in bank loans ranging from $38,000 to $130,000 each. The loans, to be paid back over six years, will be made to small and medium businesses that would have no access to conventional bank loans without the support of the fund, and that will relocate to or expand within the employment zones, or provide services to the businesses situated in the employment zones. Businesses will qualify for a loan if they show potential to expand and provide future employment opportunities for the local population. A particular focus is on improving employment opportunities for Israel’s Druze, Arab and Bedouin female population.
Two such employment zones already exist, one in the region of Daliyat el-Carmel and Yokneam Illit, and the other in the region of Karmiel, Misgav and Mateh Asher, while a third zone is planned for the area of Lehavim-Rahat in the Negev. In addition to enhancing employment opportunities in Israel’s periphery, the loan funds will strengthen relations between the country’s Jewish and minority population groups.