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Project information

Jerusalem Enterprise Sorority

By providing training and business loans for women from the poorer sections of the Jewish and the Palestinian communities, and organising regular joint workshops, the project aims both at poverty reduction and to embody a spirit of constructive joint work between communities in conflict.

January 2009 - December 2013

Charity information: The Jerusalem Interest-free Microfinance Fund Limited

The Jerusalem Interest-free Microfinance Fund Limited
  • Need


    The communities with the highest rates of poverty in Jerusalem are the more religious Jews and the Palestinian Arabs, who have limited access to microfinance. The latter, as citizens of Jerusalem but not Israel, are outside the reach of existing mf organizations. Beyond the economic need, there is growing inter-community suspicion and hatred between these groups. Peace and prosperity, mutually reinforcing, require both issues to be addressed.


    Over three years the project would sponsor the creation of some fifty micro enterprises, led in equal numbers by women respectively from the poorer sections of the Jewish and Palestinian communities. Through the course of the initiative, workshops involving members from both communities will be organised, and other opportunities will be exploited to allow mutual experiences to be exchanged and thus to build up trust between the groups. The project has been piloted successfully.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    Alleviation of poverty in Jerusalem.


    » Provision of business training to groups of Arab and Jewish women, screened for their need and their suitability, funded through training loans.
    » Support to those women who are suitable to write business plans, and grant of loans to support viable businesses, and post-loan advice.

    What success will look like

    Success will be seen in the prosperity of the individual small firms created, together with their employees and suppliers. We will attempt to assess displacement.

    Aim 2

    Mitigation of hostility and suspicion between extremist communities in Jerusalem.


    » Creation of a renowned model of cooperation between Jews and Muslims (the London Trustees of the Fund), thus undermining scepticism by demonstration.
    » Ensuring that the women supported are aware of the cross-communal sponsorship, and gradually get to know each other through joint workshops etc.

    What success will look like

    Success will be seen in positive press coverage and gradual mitigation of suspicion between participants. This is already manifest in the pilots.

  • Impact


    Long term change will be apparent in the creation of a set of thriving businesses, and some mitigation of suspicion between the participants, coupled in some few cases with mutual cooperation and friendship. Training loans are subsidised; appreciation of the project would most tangibly be expressed by women repaying the subsidy (which they know they will be asked but not obliged to do if their business is successful). In the pilot, some women have asked to be involve in cross-communal workshops.


    There is significant risk of delinquency, given the difficulty of loan enforcement particularly in East Jerusalem. This is mitigated by screening of the applicants for their seriousness and the credibility of proposals, and by the intensity of the relationship built with the Fund through the training and support process. The microfinance model has been shown to be capable of low default. A second risk is of political deterioration; cross-communal contacts can be scaled delayed if necessary.


    We have recruited a volunteer intern who produces monthly reports of progress. In addition to annual reports, we also regularly update the website and run a Facebook site. We are happy to discuss with donors more intensive feedback if desired.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £313,000

    Loading graph....
      Amount Heading Description
      £175,000 Business Loans 50 Loans of Some £3,500 each
      £84,000 Training packages 70 Training packages of £1,200
      £54,000 Oversight Part time tri-lingual MBA Exec Director

    Current Funding / Pledges

    Source Amount
    Franklin Funds £50,000 Guaranteed
    Jusaca Trust £10,000 Guaranteed
    Joe Franklin Charitable Trust £3,000 Guaranteed
  • Background


    The project is based in Jerusalem, focused upon the North and East of the city, and avoiding areas where funding might compromise achievement of peace. The Trustees are based in London.


    The poorer communities of Jerusalem, predominantly and in roughly equal measure, the charedi jews and palestinian arabs.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    We have piloted the work with two groups of participants successfully. We have built strong relationships with two local training organisations, MATI and Freelance, who have a strong track record and are enthusiastic about the project. We have recruited a skilled and dynamic trilingual chief executive to oversee the project (an Israeli Arab, with an MBA from a British business school - Cranfield).

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Jafar Sabah

    Executive Director of the project, working one day a week. Israeli Arab, with four years experience working on business start-ups in Jerusalem.

    Anat Slyper

    Project officer with MATI Jerusalem, who supervises the Hebrew language training and recruitment of the Jewish cohorts.

    Rima Shehadeh

    Executive Director of Freelance, trainers in East Jerusalem, who oversees the training and recruitment of the Arab cohorts.

    Katie Highet

    Volunteer intern from New Zealand, who is working on the project two days a week, building relationships and conducting evaluation of the pilots.