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Battling Israel’s Front-line Financial Crisis

Tables and chairs at a restaurant that has closed in Sderot, October 25, 2023. (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)

As we look at the aftermath of the October 7 massacre, we see a nation grappling with the devastating impact of war and an economy on the precipice. From a financial standpoint, families across the country are struggling to make ends meet, small businesses are on the verge of collapse, and nonprofit organizations are facing unprecedented challenges.

In times like these, it is the responsibility of not only governments, but also the private sector and the philanthropic community to step up and provide immediate relief to those who need it most. Delivering quick and effective assistance is not just the right thing to do; it’s a moral imperative.

As Israel’s sole, nonprofit social lender, Ogen has taken up the mantle of providing a lifeline to those in need. Our ‘Swords of Iron Emergency Economic Relief Fund’ aims to provide thousands of interest-free and heavily subsidized, low-interest loans to individuals and families, small businesses and nonprofit organizations. These loans will benefit tens of thousands of people that have been affected by the war.

The urgency of the situation is paramount. The government response has so far been sluggish and bank programs are proving ineffective. We’ve already raised $10 million for the Fund in just two weeks, thanks to the contributions of various partners from across the globe. But due to unprecedented demand since we opened applications, we have set an ambitious target to raise $35 million within the next month.

By blending philanthropy with capital market resources, this sum can be leveraged into $70 million-plus lending program, allowing us to reach and provide vital assistance to even more individuals and businesses in need. Due to the high demand, we anticipate that this funding will be depleted within a few weeks and foresee the situation will necessitate raising additional funds, beyond this initial target.

In addition, we are also offering a wealth of resources, including online tools and a hotline offering personal financial guidance, to ensure that those who turn to Ogen for help not only receive immediate financial support but also feel empowered to navigate their financial difficulties.

As Israel now faces financial recession, our emergency fund is an urgent response to prevent individuals, businesses and nonprofits from falling off the deep end.

The international donor community must join us in providing swift financial assistance during this critical time. The importance of this mission cannot be overstated.

In recent weeks, we have seen the remarkable strength and spirit of the Israeli people on full display. Our Fund stands as a testament to that same shared hope, resilience, and fierce power of collective action. Together, we can not only alleviate the wounds of those affected by the war but ensure they have the financial security necessary to rebuild and recover. Join us in making a difference: support our emergency relief efforts at support.ogen.org

About the Author
Sagi Balasha is the CEO of the Ogen Group, leading five non-profit organizations dedicated to expanding access to affordable credit in Israel. He previously served as the CEO of the Israeli-American Council and co-founded Concert to combat BDS efforts against Israel. He has also held significant roles at Beit Hatfutsot and in Israel's Ministry of Finance, where he played a crucial role in far-reaching structural reforms.
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