NEW YORK (Press release) — The peer-to-peer lending platform SparkIL today announced the launch of a first-of-its-kind initiative that allows individuals to support the small business of their choice in Israel, while strengthening ties and meaningful relationships between lenders and Israel.
Established in partnership with the Jewish Agency for Israel and the Ogen Group, the platform allows users to participate in the crowdfunding of interest-free loans that aim to have a real, measurable and ongoing impact on underserved populations across Israel. Crucially, the launch of SparkIL will strengthen engagement with Israel, its businesses, and its people at a time when emotional attachment to the Jewish state is diminishing among younger generations.
Lenders begin the process by exploring various business opportunities that allow them to have an impact on Israeli society that reflects their aspirations, passions and values. The platform’s funding opportunities are categorized by People, place and purpose. This includes Israel’s demographic communities (Ethiopian Israelis, Haredim, Arab Israelis, LGBTQ people, new immigrants, people with disabilities); cities and regions (Negev/south, Galilee, Golan Heights; Jerusalem region, etc.); and priority socio-economic causes (coexistence, art/culture/leisure, education, employment, environment, health, youth at risk).
After their loan is paid off, lenders can choose to reinvest their money in other worthy ventures – ensuring their original loan has ripple effects indefinitely – or withdraw their funds from the platform. When the borrower’s goal is reached, the entire loan is released.
“SparkIL presents a unique opportunity to engage global Jewry with the ability to directly impact Israeli society at the ground level,” said Na’ama Ore, CEO of SparkIL. “At a time when we are seeing increased disengagement with Israel, this digital platform could serve as a much-needed bridge connecting lenders to the entrepreneurs and businesses that need their help the most.”
As a digital platform, SparkIL breaks down the barrier of distance by helping lenders directly impact Israel and its people, while building a sense of belonging by providing a level of interconnectedness that otherwise would not been possible otherwise.
The Jewish Agency’s unique role as a global platform working and connecting Jewish communities around the world with Israel, made possible by the direct support of the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) and Keren Hayesod, will help directly to SparkIL’s unique strategy and capabilities. Ogen brings to the table his knowledge and experience as a key player in the field of social finance within Israeli society. SparkIL is also made possible by founding partners, including the Max M. & Marjorie S. Fisher Foundation and the UJA Federation of New York, as well as a private foundation.
The JFNA and the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh provide critical support to SparkIL through risk cushions. These funds will allow SparkIL to provide more borrowers with opportunities to raise much-needed capital on the platform.
“Rooted in a sense of mutual responsibility, this is a win-win proposition – for lenders looking to put their values into action and for companies with pressing capital needs. SparkIL is poised to contribute to the goal of ensuring a vibrant Jewish future for generations to come,” said Amira AhronovizCEO and Managing Director of the Jewish Agency, and Chairman of the Board of SparkIL.
Additionally, SparkIL’s interest-free loans represent a significant refresh of Jewish tradition and values. In describing eight levels of charitable giving, the medieval philosopher and Torah scholar Maimonides explained that the highest form of giving is when a donor or lender allows the recipient to become self-reliant – a directive generally defined as granting a business loan or helping someone find a job. Guided by this principle, SparkIL enables lenders to help Israeli social entrepreneurs become self-sufficient.
“The launch of SparkIL is a watershed moment for the thousands of small businesses in the socio-economic periphery of Israel that are underserved by banks,” said Sagi Balasha, CEO of Ogen Group. “For 30 years, Ogen has seen how loans and access to credit can do so much to strengthen the poorest sections of Israeli society and economy. It’s exciting that now lenders across the United States can be active day-to-day partners in this new initiative, screening and choosing the loans they want to make through SparkIL’s platform.
To learn more about the new SparkIL platform, visit: https://www.sparkil.org
Previous provided by SparkIL