The Natan Fund helps new entrepreneurs achieve their dreams

“We have helped hundreds of new small businesses to open in Israel since the start of the coronavirus pandemic,” said Dorit Simonovich Lahav Tsur, manager of the Natan Fund. “Instead of giving fish to the poor, we give them fishing rods so that they can support themselves. “

The Natan Fund was founded in 2008 by Zionist and South African philanthropist Natan Kirsch to help encourage entrepreneurship for people unable to obtain regular bank loans. Kirsch made his fortune with the American warehouse chain Jetro Cash and Carry and has a fortune of around $ 5 billion. The fund, fully funded by Kirsch, has loaned NIS 110 million over the past 13 years to help some 1,300 businesses start up, Lahav Tsur said.

“We provide interest-free loans to ‘unbankable’ people who cannot get a loan, whether it’s because their bank credit is limited or because they have an existing home or car loan that prevents them from getting one. another, ”Lahav told Tsour. “We demand that people be qualified and have experience in their field. So, for example, a person who wishes to open a garage must have appropriate certification and experience as a mechanic. We support all who are Israeli citizens, including the Haredim [ultra-Orthodox], Arabs and Bedouin, and we have loaned money to people of all ages, from 20 to 75 years old. Many of our businesses are located in outlying towns around Israel, and 45% of them are in the north of the country.

The pandemic has led many people to make changes in their lives, notes Lahav Tsur. “We have loaned money to 126 new businesses in 2020, and we hope to do 150 in 2021,” she says. She smiles as she begins to give examples of some of the people she has helped.

“There was an Arab man we helped open a dental practice in Ramle, after working for local clinics for years. We helped an Arab woman to open a pharmacy in her northern village, Nahf. Many women in the Arab sector work as pharmacists, and we have helped her to cope on her own. “

“In the Haredi community, many women are starting businesses, especially selling wigs and clothing. We had another woman in Bnei Brak who opened a large store selling games and school supplies.

“We have a few Haredi businesses that are thinking outside the box, including a man from Beitar who is trying to market a shoe vending machine. He has just started a pilot with two machines, and he hopes to set up a big business. Another man from Beit Shemesh opened a matzah factory with 40 employees that exports to New York and sells its stock all year before the Passover holiday.

There are many other first-time business owners: the natural ice cream shop at Sde Nehemia in the north; the pilot from El Al who founded a climbing center at Kibbutz Afikim; the woman of Kibbutz Nitzanei Oz, who developed a diaper weaning system for toddlers; a Druze woman who opened a day care center in her northern town; and much more. “I feel very lucky to be able to help so many people and make a big difference in their lives,” says Lahav Tsur.

“The fund is managed like a gemach [literally a Hebrew acronym meaning acts of lovingkindness], and the founder always makes sure we have the money we need, ”says Lahav Tsur. “We have a default rate of around 11%, which is great for a fund like this, and any money lost is made up by the founder.

The application process is simple and user-friendly, says Lahav Tsur. “A candidate fills out an application on our website, nksf.org.il, and submits a business plan and bank details. We go through it, and if it meets all the requirements, we invite them for an interview. We need one or two guarantors, depending on how much we lend. For loans up to 100,000 NIS, we expect repayment in three years, and up to 500,000 NIS, we provide up to five years. There is no one else in Israel who makes such loans, ”says Lahav Tsur. “We are helping people change their lives. “


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