The Jewish Agency for Israel and the Ogen–Social Loan Fund, a not-for-profit lending fund, are launching an emergency fund for nonprofits to assist organizations suffering financially from the coronavirus crisis, the organizations said in a press release on Wednesday.

There are around 16,000 nonprofit organizations in Israel. They employ hundreds of thousands of people—accounting for 16 percent of Israel’s labor force—and account for 6 percent of Israel’s GDP.

Following three national elections and in the absence of a national budget for 2020, the nonprofit sector has been operating under conditions of uncertainty that have affected its ability to provide even basic services. The COVID-19 shutdown has only increased this uncertainty, and drops in the stock market are expected to affect the private donors and foundations upon whom the organizations rely for their fundraising.

Since the beginning of March, tens of thousands of nonprofit organization employees have been laid off. There has been a surge in the number of organizations seeking emergency loans. This includes nonprofits that serve Israel’s most vulnerable: at-risk youth, battered women, the elderly, people with disabilities, populations with special needs and more.

The Emergency Fund for Nonprofits program includes provisions for immediate loans at a 3 percent interest rate, as well as loans of up to NIS 400,000 ($112,000) for up to 60 months, with a six-month grace period, both with no requirement for guarantors. The loans can be applied for via a simple online process.

In addition, Ogen is also offering bridge loans payable within 12 months, secured against government agreements, grants or other non-government funding commitments.

“The special terms for these loans were made possible by generous support from Bob and Trudy Gottesman, Lillian and Moris Tabacinic, the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) and the Federations of New York, Greater Miami, Detroit and Pittsburgh, and by Israeli supporters the Migdal Group, Boaz Raam and Shuki Ehrlich,” said the Jewish Agency in a statement.

Loan applications are available via the Ogen website: www.ogen.org.

This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.

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