Is it possible to help the poor establish businesses while at the same time building peace among different communities? You might have doubts about it, but four men representing the Muslim and Jewish communities who truly believe in cross-communal initiatives are achieving this goal through the Jerusalem Interest-free Microfinance Fund (JIMF). These Muslim and Jewish men founded the organization together in 2008.
Based in the UK, JIMF provides interest-free loans, technical assistance and business training, including trainings on skills needed to build a successful business such as negotiation, networking and marketing. Intensive trainings are arranged before the loan disbursement to make sure that clients have the skills they need to start-up their businesses and expand them later on. By supporting people from both communities, the organization seeks to mitigate inter-communal tensions in Jerusalem.
It’s not surprising that the poverty rate in Jerusalem is close to 40% - the city has been through a lot of challenges that have impacted the social and economic well being of its people. Two major communities have been affected most - the Jewish and Arab communities. These communities have the highest level of poverty and have little or no access to microfinance. It is especially difficult for women, since they are generally not actively engaged in the workforce.
Each client undergoes a thorough business plan analysis, and after completing 56-hours of group training workshops and 5 hours of one-on-one pre-loan mentoring, borrowers are able to get their loans. Moreover, clients also receive 10 hours of one-on-one consultations where JIMF helps them to refine their business plan.
What is interesting about JIMF is that its credit policy complies with Sharia and Halacha laws, and borrowers enjoy financing at no interest! JIMF is fully financed from charitable donations and the staff works on a voluntary basis.
Loans at JIMF are up to USD8,000 and today the organization has helped more than 30 female borrowers to launch such businesses as a falafel store, a sewing business, a wedding dress shop, a jewelry shop, an advertising agency and more.
Where does Kiva come in?
Kiva is extremely excited to help clients in Jerusalem attend JIMF’s business development trainings and to start or to grow their own businesses. Additionally, Kiva lenders’ funds will help to foster cross-cultural understanding and peaceful interactions between diverse groups.
SUPPORT A JERUSALEM INTEREST-FREE MICROFINANCE FUND TODAY ! We’re sorry if they’re all funded, but please check back soon for more!
Have questions about JIMF? About Kiva’s work in Jerusalem? Email us at blog@Kiva.org.