The Koret Israel Economic Development Funds – Asper Foundation Micro-Enterprise Project

In 2005, the launch year of the Clinton Global Initiative, The Asper Foundation committed to the creation of The Koret Israel Economic Development Funds – Asper Foundation Micro-Enterprise Project at this international forum. The Clinton Global Initiative is a non-partisan catalyst for action, bringing together a community of global leaders to devise and implement innovative solutions to some of the world’s most pressing challenges.

The Asper Foundation partnered with Koret Israel Economic Development Funds (KIEDF) to establish this micro-finance/lending program. The Asper Foundation committed $100,000 U.S. to KIEDF for support of business development training, mentoring and technical assistance and local program administration costs. All loan guarantees are provided by KIEDF. This support was applied equally between economically disadvantaged Arab and non-Arab Israeli men and women specifically in the development areas of Be’er Sheva, Ofakim and Rahat. As well, The Asper Foundation grant was counted toward the Koret Foundation match program for KIEDF which increased Koret support dollar-for-dollar for non-designated programs.

KIEDF was established in 1994 by the Koret Foundation of San Francisco to provide economic assistance to small businesses in Israel dealing with the serious negative economic fallout related to terrorism against Israelis. KIEDF has helped more than 8,800 small businesses secure funds to sustain their enterprises, facilitating nearly $245 million U.S. in loans to private enterprise bringing self-sufficiency and dignity to tens of thousands of Israeli business owners and their employees. These businesses today engage and support more than 42,000 employees and their families. KIEDF has also facilitated more than 250 micro loans. For more information on KIEDF, click here.

The goal of the low income programs was to facilitate the establishment of micro-enterprises via business skills training, loans and individual post-credit mentoring assistance. The goal of the business improvement program was to improve business performance and create a group of business leaders in the Negev region of Israel via business skills development, individual mentoring and loans. The program had 130 participants, distributed 50 loans at an average of $4,000 each for a total of $200,000 and created 50-70 jobs.

The project was comprised of the following programs:

  • A low income micro-enterprise program for Ethiopian women in Be’er Sheva
  • A low income micro-enterprise program for women in Ofakim
  • Two low income micro-enterprise programs for Bedouin women in Rahat
  • A business improvement program for Ethiopian men and women business owners in Be’er Sheva

The business development training component of the project included participants attending several months of training on how to manage funds, focus their business capabilities and ideas, create and manage a micro-enterprise, requirements as to taxes, VAT and licensing, preparing business plans and navigating the loan approval process. The mentoring and technical assistance component of the project included participants who received loans receiving post-loan mentoring and technical assistance from a KIEDF-approved financial advisor over a period of several months. The local program administration component of the project included an organization, centre or other non-profit being engaged to recruit the group participants, provide facilities and refreshments, coordinate group meetings and provide related services.

Bedouin women held a fair in Rahat, Israel through the Koret Israel Economic Development Funds – Asper Foundation Micro-Enterprise Project. Click here to read an English translation of a June 22, 2008 Negev News article (original in Arabic) on the event and click here for a Power Point presentation on the event.

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