(February 17, 2021 / JNS) Tech giant Google has granted Israeli nonprofit lender The Ogen Group a $1 million “impact loan” to boost the group’s low-interest loans to small businesses, Ogen announced on Wednesday.
Small businesses generate more than 35 percent of Israel’s gross national product and have lost 44 percent of their revenue on average during the country’s three COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns to date.
Google is the first international corporate investor to support Ogen’s efforts, according to the organization.
“Google’s investment in Ogen shows how business, nonprofit and government stakeholders can come together in 2021 to finance social ventures and develop a true impact on the economy in Israel,” said Ogen CEO Sagi Balasha.
Balasha added that he was “grateful to Google for this show of trust” in the company.
In addition, Google is giving another $500,000 to support the growth of its ShoppingIL Academy initiative, which helps small businesses expand to online sales and marketing. Keren-Shemesh, which is part of the Ogen Group, will provide long-term mentoring to the small-business owners selected to participate in the initiative.
“Small businesses are the heart of the economy, and in the past year, we have felt the need to do more for them,” said Barak Regev, who manages Google Israel. “We joined Ogen in order to financially help and support more businesses while continuing our effort to digitize small business in Israel.”
Ogen, formerly the Israel Free Loan Association (IFLA), was founded in 1990 to help new immigrants from Ethiopia and the former Soviet Union adjust to life in Israel. It has since expanded to provide affordable loans to lower- and middle-income families and small-business owners.
To date, Ogen has provided more than 65,000 interest-free loans, totaling more than $350 million.
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