Israel’s Ogen Group has raised thirty million dollars to provide emergency survival loans and financial mentoring to small businesses, nonprofits and unemployed and furloughed workers.
Ogen, established in 1990 as the Israel Free Loan Association, now stands to double its daily lending activity, injecting life-changing capital where it is needed most. The new funding will also streamline operations and deliver all loans within 7 business days, lending without guarantors for the first time in Ogen’s 30-year history.
Ogen is now embarking on a campaign to raise an additional $70 million to meet the growing credit needs of individuals, small businesses and nonprofits. While recent donations take Ogen’s total lending capital to around $100 million, this figure still denotes less than 0.5% of Israel’s credit market. Ogen can currently finance just five thousand loans per year – a number that barely scratches the surface of the need for affordable credit in the wake of COVID-19.
More than one million workers have registered as unemployed or on unpaid leave in Israel since the pandemic began, some 54 percent of whom are self-employed and ineligible for unemployment benefits. More than 20,000 small businesses have been turned away for government-backed loans.
The financial fallout has pushed Israel’s nonprofit sector to breaking point also. Twenty-five percent of Israeli nonprofits, on which hundreds of thousands of Israelis depend for daily services in healthcare, welfare, education and more, have ceased operations entirely.
Ogen has already issued a large first wave of emergency loans, distributing $2M in interest-free personal loans, close to $3M to small businesses and more than $3.5M to help nonprofit organizations – utilizing almost all Ogen’s available lending funds.
One anonymous Israeli donor contributed $20 million in a deep show of social and civic responsibility for those most affected by the financial downturn. Among the many additional philanthropists and organizations worldwide that made significant contributions also were Trudy and Bob Gottesman, the Russell Berrie Foundation, the Max & Marjorie Fisher Foundation, the Jewish Agency for Israel, The Max Barney Foundation from the UK, Jewish Communal Fund (JCF), PEF Israel Endowment Funds, the UJA Federation of New York, Migdal Group and Boaz Raam alongside a number of additional anonymous contributors.
Ogen was founded three-decades ago by Prof. Eliezer Jaffe z”l.