This is very good news for small businesses, first-time home buyers and nonprofit organizations, right on the eve of the Jewish new year: soon, they will all be able to access fixed low-interest loans from Ogen – Social Loan Fund, which is currently in advanced stages of becoming Israel’s first not-for-profit social bank.

A public benefit company wholly owned by its parent charity, Ogen – Free Loan Fund, its goal is to achieve a new level of fairness and equality in Israel’s financial sector and to encourage upward social mobility. It is the first to receive an expanded Credit Provider License from the Finance Ministry’s Capital Markets Authority.

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Since its inception, in 1990, the nonprofit organization has lent a total of $344 million in interest-free loans to 62,500 Israeli households and small businesses. It will now receive an equity boost of $14.3 million from Ogen – Free Loan Fund, significantly increasing the Ogen Group’s capital base, which today stands at almost $86 million.

Ogen small business loans extend up to $57,000 with a 5% fixed interest rate, secured by one guarantor, with the requirement that borrowers present a professional business plan prepared by a business adviser.

Loans of up to $29,000 are available to families purchasing their first home, at a 5% fixed interest. These loans are intended to help families put a down payment on apartments of up to $430,000 in value (the average price of a modest, new apartment in Israel). These loans are primarily given to families that have completed Ogen’s free coaching program, which helps disadvantaged families improve their finances and enter the housing market.

Ogen also provides low-interest bridge loans for non-profit organizations and public benefit companies that provide services for the government, designed to help borrower organizations that experience cash flow challenges while waiting for government funding to come in.

Ogen also provides interest-free loans to underprivileged families facing large expenses that could threaten their financial stability.

The Ogen Group is currently comprised of four nonprofit organizations, all with the shared goal of creating financial empowerment and providing accessible and affordable credit for disadvantaged people, small businesses and nonprofit organizations in Israel.

Ogen’s board is comprised of leaders in Israel’s banking, business and philanthropic sectors, who volunteer their time and skills, including Adv. Ofir Ozeri, Adv. Dalia Tal, Linda Benshoshan, Daniel Recanati, Boaz Raam, Tal Shlasky, and Aviad Friedman.

Sagi Balasha, CEO of the Ogen Group said in a statement: “Receiving our license from the Capital Markets Authority is an important milestone. I am pleased that Ogen is the first to receive the expanded license in its new format, which required the submission of numerous documents, meticulous planning, and a methodical business strategy.”

Ofir Ozeri, Chairman of the Ogen Group said in a statement: “The underlying motto that guides Ogen’s credit activity is providing “life changing loans”. This conveys our commitment to making a positive change in people’s lives and for Israeli society in general. The sole profit that motivates us is the positive impact we’re able to make. because we care and our only profit is our borrowers’ personal and social gain.”

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David writes news at JewishPress.com.