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SparkIL launches emergency loan fund as wartime lifeline for Israeli small businesses

Small businesses are experiencing a personnel shortage given the 360,000 army reserves called up, while tourism has been closed or have pivoted to tending to the needs of Israeli evacuees.

Growing a small business. Credit: nattanan23/Pixabay.
Growing a small business. Credit: nattanan23/Pixabay.

SparkIL, a peer-to-peer lending platform that enables individuals across the Jewish world to support the small business of their choice in Israel, announced the launch of a NIS 10 million ($2.7 million) Emergency Loan Fund that will provide businesses affected by the current war with much-needed assistance. For a loan as small as $25, Americans now have a tangible, on-the-ground way to help Israel at its darkest hour.

The loan fund is offering up to NIS 100,000 (about $27,000) in assistance per business at a time when economic conditions are creating an unprecedented strain on their operations. New estimates from the Israeli central bank forecast the war with Hamas to cost Israel roughly $53 billion between now and 2025, while JPMorgan Chase & Co. predicts Israel’s gross domestic product will shrink 11% this quarter on an annualized basis.

Small businesses are experiencing a severe personnel shortage given the 360,000 reserves called up by the Israel Defense Forces, while many businesses in industries such as tourism have been closed or have pivoted to tending to the needs of evacuees. With the Israeli government offering an insufficient grant to small businesses affected by the war, the SparkIL Emergency Loan Fund is substantially increasing the assistance that is available to those businesses at this time.

The initiative also fosters meaningful relationships between lenders in the Diaspora and the small-business owners who they are supporting in Israel at a time when it is more critical than ever.

“Around the world at a time like this, it is common for the typical supporter of Israel to ask, ‘How can I help?’ SparkIL has always offered a unique opportunity in that realm, and today that resonates more powerfully than ever,” said Na’ama Ore, CEO of SparkIL. “With small-business owners hurting, these loans transform Israelis’ hurt and pain into hope. Simultaneously, for as little as $25, we give lenders a purpose and a tangible way to help.”

Established in 2022 in partnership with the Jewish Agency for Israel and the Ogen Group, SparkIL is a first-of-its-kind platform that enables users to participate in crowdfunding interest-free loans which aim to make a real, measurable and continuing impact on underserved populations across Israel.

Lenders begin the process by exploring various business opportunities that empower them to make an impact on Israeli society which speaks to their aspirations, passions, and values. After repayment of their loan, lenders can choose to reinvest their money into other worthy businesses—ensuring that their initial loan has ripple effects indefinitely—or to withdraw their funds from the platform.

With Israel at war, SparkIL’s Emergency Loan Fund offers the immediate, impactful opportunity of supporting small businesses in the hardest-hit areas of the country, as well as any businesses across the country affected by the war.

“SparkIL helps put the mutual responsibility the Jewish people have for one another into action,” said Amira Ahronoviz, CEO and director general at the Jewish Agency. “The loans granted by SparkIL will help small businesses and nonprofit organizations in Israel survive this challenging period, and allow supporters around the world to connect with Israel in a meaningful and impactful way.”

Sagi Balasha, CEO of the Ogen Group, added: “Our goal is to provide the victims of the war and of the economic crisis with immediate assistance, particularly through a quick and seamless process with minimal bureaucracy.”

For anyone interested in supporting a small business in Israel through an investment as low as $25, learn more and select a business to help at: www.sparkil.org.

Additionally, with Chanukah approaching, SparkIL’s gift cards can help spread light in dark times by enabling them to support the Israeli small business of their choice.

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