10 Aug SparkIL Helping Israeli Small Businesses Thrive
SparkIL Helping Israeli Small Businesses Thrive
For Israeli small business owners David, Sarah and Maria, loans crowdfunded by global lenders through SparkIL are allowing them to think bigger – and making their entrepreneurial dreams come true.
When David, an Israeli small business owner, learned about the opportunity to receive a crowd-funded loan from individuals around the world through SparkIL, he couldn’t believe his luck. Orphaned at a young age, David faced much adversity but always possessed a strong work ethic. After his service in the Israel Defense Forces, he discovered the world of mycology, the study of mushrooms, and is hoping to use his fungi knowledge to change the culinary and medicinal landscape of Israel.
“Getting a loan through SparkIL’s peer-funding initiative makes me believe in true kindness,” said David, a SparkIL borrower. “I’m a dreamer and am building FUNGGIZ, a business I believe in, but my business would have been left far behind without the loan.”
A first-of-its-kind peer-to-peer lending platform established in partnership by The Jewish Agency and The Ogen Group, SparkIL enables users around the world to participate in crowdfunding interest-free loans and support the small business of their choice in Israel.
“Rooted in a sense of mutual responsibility, this is a win-win proposition — for lenders who are looking to put their values into action and for businesses with pressing capital needs,” said Amira Ahronoviz, CEO and Director General of The Jewish Agency, and the Chair of the Board of SparkIL.
“SparkIL’s launch is a turning point for the thousands of small businesses from Israel’s socioeconomic periphery who are underserved by the banks,” added Sagi Balasha, CEO of The Ogen Group. “It’s exciting that lenders across the U.S. can be active daily partners, picking and choosing the loans they want to make through SparkIL’s platform.”
The initiative aims to allow lenders to make a real, measurable and continuing impact on entrepreneurs from underserved populations across Israel and build meaningful relationships to the Jewish state.
“SparkIL presents a unique opportunity to engage world Jewry with the ability to make a direct impact on Israeli society at the ground level,” stated SparkIL CEO Na’ama Ore.
Wanting to support a woman-owned business and empower his daughters to pursue their dreams, Micha, a lender from Boca Raton, Florida, lent money to Sarah, an olah (immigrant to Israel) from France looking to grow her business as a nutrition and wellness coach.
“After making Aliyah in 2013, I worked in high tech to pay the bills, but it was never my passion. So on the weekends and evenings, I took courses to become a certified coach and slowly found clients, and then in 2021, despite the pandemic, decided to focus on my business full time,” Sarah said. “The response to my coaching has been incredible and a loan will allow me to buy additional equipment so I can help more women find balance in their lives and get healthier.”
The ability to choose what Israeli business to lend money to is what attracted Merissa, a lender from Stamford, Connecticut, to the platform.
“I’m making a loan because SparkIL really gives me the freedom to support a person or cause that I really connect with or believe in,” she said. Merissa loaned money to Maria, a lawyer and certified engineer who made Aliyah in 2019 from Russia. Maria developed an after-school STEM program exposing kids to robotics through Legos.
“I love to understand how things are built and Legos are a great tool that can help kids explore the world of engineering and STEM in a fun way. To run my program, I need a loan to secure additional equipment and Legos,” explained Maria, a SparkIL borrower. “With help from SparkIL lenders, the next generation will be exposed to engineering, robotics and coding, which could set them on a path they would never have found otherwise.”