Ogen launches ‘Swords of Iron Emergency Economic Relief Fund,’ offering interest-free loans

Fund will provide critical support to individuals, nonprofit organizations, and small businesses affected by the war.

Illustrative photo of 200 shekel bills. Photo by Nati Shohat/Flash90.
Illustrative photo of 200 shekel bills. Photo by Nati Shohat/Flash90.

Ogen, a nonprofit social lending enterprise offering credit solutions and financial guidance for low- and middle-income Israelis, announced the launch of the Swords of Iron Emergency Relief Fund in response to the Oct. 7 attack on Israel by Hamas terrorists. The fund will provide critical support to individuals, small businesses and nonprofit organizations affected by the war.

The primary objective of the “Swords of Iron Emergency Economic Relief Fund” is to offer a lifeline to the thousands of people who are being impacted by the war. This includes providing 1,000 loans to individuals and families, 300 loans to small businesses, and 133 loans to nonprofit organizations, benefiting more than 30,000 people. This support will significantly impact tens of thousands of lives, offering hope, guidance and critical financial aid during these challenging times.

Sagi Balasha, CEO of Ogen, said, “Our mission at Ogen is to offer swift and tailored support to those affected by the ongoing crisis and economic challenges, particularly as we observe a sluggish response from the government. To maximize our impact, we aim to leverage the funds we raise by actively engaging institutional investors. Through a combination of philanthropic contributions and strategic financial instruments, we harness the power of blending philanthropic money with commercial capital, allowing us to raise credit lines, provide impact loans, and issue securitized bonds—meaning we can expand our reach and provide vital assistance where it’s needed most.”

Ogen has successfully raised $10 million USD for the fund in just one week, with contributions from various partners, including UJA-Federation of New York, the Jewish Agency for Israel and long-standing supporters Robert and Trudy Gottesman, who have made a significant seed commitment. Building on this momentum, Ogen has set an ambitious target to raise $35 million within the next month.

Robert Gottesman, executive chairman, First Manhattan and long-standing supporter of Ogen, said: “Trudy and I have been longtime strong supporters of Ogen. We believe in its powerful philanthropic model of helping tens of thousands of individuals in Israel through interest-free loans, and small businesses and nonprofits through larger-sized, low-interest-rate loans. Given Ogen’s current capabilities and reach, we felt that the time was right to offer substantial support and aid in launching this Emergency Response campaign. We have unwavering confidence in Ogen’s ability to make a significant difference for those facing financial hardships during this challenging period.” 

Ogen, with its 33-year track record of rapid crisis response, is uniquely positioned as Israel’s sole nonprofit social lender to provide immediate support in cases where government assistance is delayed or insufficient. As such, Ogen is offering interest-free loans of up to 60,000 NIS to individuals and families experiencing financial hardships as a result of the recent attacks. These loans will serve as a financial lifeline, providing immediate assistance to those grappling with the aftermath of this crisis.

Small and micro-businesses account for more than 45% of Israel’s workforce, but businesses near Gaza and across the country have been severely affected by recent events. Ogen will therefore also provide interest-free loans for businesses and nonprofits through its platform SparkIL, jointly owned with the Jewish Agency for Israel, offering up to 100,000 NIS in financial support. At the same time, Ogen is offering significantly subsidized low-interest loans with rates as low as 3.25%.

In addition to financial assistance, Ogen will provide a wealth of resources, including online tools, expert guidance and one-on-one support to help affected families and businesses navigate their financial difficulties during these trying times.

As Israel transitions from the initial triage support in response to the Oct. 7 attacks, it’s crucial to recognize that Israel is likely heading into a financial recession. The emergency relief fund is therefore an urgent response to prevent individuals and businesses from falling off the precipice. We call upon the international donor community to join us in providing swift financial assistance during this critical time.

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