newsIsrael at War

How SparkIL saved Meir and Rachel’s counseling business

The first peer-to-peer lending platform in Israel offers borrowers access to a loan of up to $27,300 for five years at zero interest.

Meir and Rachel Sherper. Credit: @ori_tzilum.
Meir and Rachel Sherper. Credit: @ori_tzilum.

In addition to managing a household for the past 16 years and their five children, Meir and Rachel Sherper, from Moshav Geva Carmel, south of Haifa, have another labor of love—their counseling business.

Four years ago, the Sherpers established their business, which has helped thousands of couples navigate life’s challenges and reconnect. They offer personalized and group support programs that empower individuals and couples to minimize conflicts and arguments. Their focus is on fostering mutual understanding and harmony through close, respectful communication. Together they maintain a Facebook community with 20,000 followers who strive to maintain shalom bayit—peace in the home.

On Oct. 7, however, everything changed and home was anything but peaceful. The Sherpers ran into a significant challenge of their own when Meir was called up for IDF reserve duty, most of their group courses were canceled and many of the residents evacuated. Meir, the content mastermind, who was responsible for marketing and strategy for the company, had to pack up and leave to protect his homeland.

With the business frozen in place, Rachel had to face these hardships alone. Within weeks, cash flow issues started piling up and there was no sense of when Meir would return.

The couple turned to SparkIL to take out a loan that offers small businesses exactly what they’re looking for during this time: immediate financial relief, at zero interest.

Their loan didn’t come from a bank. They received their nearly $14,000 check from dozens of Israelis and Jews around the world who chose to lend money through the SparkIL platform.

With this financial burden no longer plaguing her, Rachel was free mentally and physically to take care of her struggling clients by offering online courses, giving them access to their expertise even as they were evacuated from their homes.

Today, four months on, Meir is still not able to dedicate himself to the family business due to his military obligations, but more clients have turned to Rachel and have been able to benefit from the online programming the two developed together.

As they wait for the war to end and the hostages to come back home, the couple is grateful for everyone who contributed to their loan and took part in this uplifting social experiment.

Many small businesses are feeling the brunt of Israel’s economic crisis in the wake of the Gaza war. As a result, SparkIL provided an emergency 30 million shekel ($8.275m.) fund to help these struggling enterprises.

As the first peer-to-peer lending platform in Israel, which works in partnership with the Ogen Group and the Jewish Agency for Israel, borrowers can have access to a loan of up to 100,000 shekels (approximately $27,300) for five years. Once a business meets the criteria, and it’s determined they’re able to repay the loan, SparkIL launches a campaign for the business on its website, inviting lenders from all over the world to contribute as little as $25.

Unlike other crowdfunding platforms, SparkIL provides lenders with updates from the business they helped where they can monitor how their contributions are helping the business not only survive but thrive. These regular updates let lenders know how each business is doing and if any additional assistance is needed. This process yields a connection between borrowers and lenders, something that is usually missing in this type of relationship.

Na’ama Ore, CEO of SparkIL, adds: “The war and the challenging time in Israel as of late required SparkIL to mobilize for small businesses and nonprofits.

“Our team is committed to boosting the Israeli economy, and the people behind the businesses and reinforcing the connection between Israelis and Jewish Diaspora. Our goal is to reach tens of thousands of lenders who can be part of this movement, and even a loan of $25 can make a difference. Everyone can join this movement of doing good.”

Originally published by Israel Hayom.

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