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The Israel Free Loan Association has provided $1.5 million in interest-free loans to over 50 small businesses in southern Israel affected by the recent Gaza conflict.

Hundreds of small businesses were hurt by damages or lost productivity during Israel’s Operation Pillar of Defense in Gaza last month.

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In an effort to speed up the distribution of funds to Israel’s south, the Jerusalem-based Israel Free Loan Association slightly relaxed its review process for business loan approvals, requiring only two guarantors on the loan, in place of the typical three.

The approved beneficiaries represented a diverse collection of individuals and small businesses including small shops and manufacturers as well as service providers such as hairdressers, carpenters and day care centers.  All the affected businesses reported steep cash flow challenges resulting from halted income during the military campaign despite the fact that their expenses continued to accumulate.

The new loans have been made available through two gifts from the Legacy Heritage Fund and the Trudy and Bob Gottesman Fund, amounting to just over $1.5 million.

“The recent violence presented many small businesses and individuals with a desperate economic challenge and we take great pride that we can play our part in helping Israel’s south get on the road to recovery,” said Edward Cohen, chairman of the association.

Founded in 1990, the Israel Free Loan Association has distributed over 46,000 individual loans amounting to more than $170,000,000.  The association prides itself on strong fiscal management and identifying loan beneficiaries who will not default on their loan.  To date, it has a default rate of less than .5 percent.

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