Maimonides: A Loan is Better than Charity

The Israel Free Loan Association, based on a Jewish concept endorsed by the sage Maimonides, offers Israel’s working poor interest-free loans.

from Israel 21c:

Making ends meet, with dignity

The IFLA, which purports to be the largest organization of its kind in the world, offers interest-free loans of between $3,000 and $5,000 to individuals and $15,000 for small businesses. Applicants must earn an average monthly income of at least NIS 3,000 (about $730), and have two guarantors.

… “These people are not looking for charity,” Professor Eliezer Jaffe, the 80-year-old founder and driving force behind the organization, tells ISRAEL21c. “We treat them as clients. We’re trying to keep them out of the jaws of the loan sharks.”

In the 20 years since its inception, the IFLA has loaned out more than $115 million to over 50,000 low-income families and struggling small businesses. On average, the IFLA lends out another $15 million every year to Israelis of all backgrounds.

… And like the Hebrew Free Loan Associations that sprung up in cities across the United States in the early 20th century, the IFLA helps new immigrants in Israel to get a better start. IFLA loans have enabled new immigrants to buy apartments, university students to complete their academic degrees, ailing Israelis to undergo operations, handicapped people to purchase medical equipment, and have helped struggling small businesses to get back on their financial feet.

… The IFLA’s capital comes from charitable foundations, funds and private donors. “We maintain low overheads,” Jaffe points out. “What we don’t want to do is sit on money. Almost one-third of our loans are for opening, bolstering or saving small businesses [with sums of up to NIS 90,000, some $25,000]. The banks want to go with the big businesses, but we see small businesses as the backbone of the economy.