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AACI aids would-be entrepreneurs

אוקטובר 19, 2007. Haaretz: Daphna Berman

Business loans for up to NIS 300,000 are now available to local English speakers, thanks to a new Association of Americans and Canadians in Israel (AACI) program that aims to provide immigrants with seed money for establishing their own businesses.

AACI has formed a partnership with Koret Israel Economic Development Funds, a nonprofit business development program, which will administer the project and provide low interest rates and professional consulting assistance to applicants. The project is aimed at English speakers seeking to open or expand small- to medium-sized business.

"Earning a living is a big problem for many olim," AACI executive director David London said of the project. "Not everyone can continue to work overseas and that's not always a good solution for everyone."

Loans, which start at NIS 20,000, come with an estimated 5 to 6 percent interest rate for terms ranging from three to five years. As part of the project, applicants are referred to Koret, where business counselors provide potential would-be entrepreneurs with professional guidance, as well as information on how to build a business plan. The program is open to AACI members; membership, which includes a small annual fee, is open to all English speakers in Israel.

"We don't want people leaving the country because they can't make a livelihood," says Matt Schein, the vice president of operations at AACI who created the new project. "We're primarily a klitah [absorption] organization - that is our raison d'etre - and so it is important to us that olim adjust economically, as well as socially." "We want the oleh [immigrant] to succeed, grow, and hopefully hire other olim," he added. "With a $75,000 loan, you can actually create jobs."

The funds for the project were originally earmarked for mortgages for AACI members, but the number of people applying for mortgages through the organization has decreased in recent years. The funds have since been rerouted for the business loan project, which was launched this month. For more information or to apply contact [email protected]  

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