NIS 10 million marked for ultra-Orthodox businesses due to COVID-19


A new fund has been launched which is making some NIS 10 million in loans for small-businesses and freelancers in the ultra-Orthodox sector which are struggling to stay afloat financially due to the economic blows dealt them by the COVID-19 pandemic.
While the entire economy has been badly hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, the situation in the ultra-Orthodox sector has been particularly challenging.According to Motti Eichler, director of Achim Global foundation which is providing the loans, many ultra-Orthodox freelancers and small-business owners are only at the beginning of their business journey, and run young companies or have only recently entered the workforce.Because their business relationships are therefore much fresher and less well-founded, many customers and service consumers have cut contact with the suppliers they have known for the least amount of time, such as ultra-Orthodox businesses which have not been operational for long.And the ultra-Orthodox city of Bnei Brak was an epicenter of the COVID-19 epidemic in Israel, and was totally shutdown for several weeks, longer than any other locale in the country, further depressing economic activity in the city.Many ultra-Orthodox freelancers have been left bereft of work, while orders for small businesses and service providers in the sector have dried up, leaving many financially imperiled and their businesses at risk of total collapse.Freelancers who have received minimal state assistance during the COVID-19 crisis have been hard hit by the lack of demand, while the overheads for small businesses have continued to pile up while work has shrunk dramatically, says Eichler.He also noted that the special government assistance programs which have been made available for the ultra-Orthodox business sector have all been suspended, leaving them more vulnerable.Employment and wealth generation within the ultra-Orthodox community has been a high-priority national goal for several years, and Eichler says it was therefore imperative that sources of emergency finance be made available immediately to keep ultra-Orthodox businesses and entrepreneurs afloat.In order to assist, the Achim Global foundation, established and funded by UK businessman Marc Schimmel, has ramped out its services to help businesses, entrepreneurs, and freelancers in the ultra-Orthodox sector get through the economic downturn that the public health crisis has wrought.The organization, which provides a variety of services to ultra-Orthodox small businesses and freelancers, is now providing loans of NIS 30,000 to NIS 300,000 to help keep them above water.Some NIS 5m. in loans have already been disbursed by Achim Global to several dozen businesses and freelancers, and there are another 100 applicants waiting for a reply.In total, the organization expects to issue approximately NIS 10m. in the coming financial quarter.The Bnei Brak Municipal Authority has been a partner to the initiative, by helping refer businesses in need of assistance on to Achim Global.Photographers, graphic designers, and a gym owner are just some of those who have benefited from assistance provided by the foundation during the recent months of COVID-19 economic paralysis.In addition, the Achim Global has partnered with another organization the Sun Foundation, which has a mentoring program staffed by volunteers who work as bankers, financial consultants, accountants, lawyers, and others, who are giving their expertise and advice to businesses which are experiencing difficulties.Such mentors are helping put the finances of these organizations in order, prioritizing payments and liabilities, and helping them obtain deferrals and easing of terms in the short term.They are also giving advice as to how small business owners can expand their markets and find new demand for their services despite the economic difficulties, Eichler said.In addition, Achim Global’s shared office space center in Bnei Brak is being made free to use during June and July.“All the government assistance for the ultra-Orthodox economic sector has been moved aside at present, so there has be tools to deal with the economic crisis in the sector,” said Eichler.“Just like it was in terms of the health crisis itself, if you don’t focus on the economic crisis in the ultra-Orthodox sector it will find it harder than others to cope.”





Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *