The UNRWA Microfinance department has developed a range of loans to address the diverse needs of Palestine refugees. Loan products target households as well as small businesses and micro-enterprises, supporting consumption and family investments in education, health, and housing.
This is the Microfinance department’s oldest product, aimed directly at furthering economic development and creating jobs. The loans are relatively large, ranging from US$ 3,000 to US$ 75,000, and typically support capital investment, modernization and market expansion. The department now increasingly focuses on its other lending products.
This adaptation of the SGL loan accommodates home-based enterprise by women, allowing them to build up household assets for business use. It was first piloted in Syria. Unlike the SGL, it is not a group loan. In 2015, average loans ranged from US $240 in Syria to US $1,003 in the West Bank.
This product targets the overwhelming majority of regional businesses that employ fewer than five workers, most of whom have no access to formal credit and are vulnerable to shocks. MEC loans, which range from US$ 300 to US$ 8,500, help such businesses build up and maintain reserves of short-term working capital.
As successful micro-enterprises mature, they often require larger loans with extended repayment periods to continue expanding their capital and increase employment. To meet this demand, we provide MEC+ loans to borrowers who have demonstrated repayment ability over three loan cycles, and to more formal enterprises. This product is a significant element in our growth in the West Bank and Jordan, and is also available in Gaza.
In 2012, UNRWA launched an innovative new loan product for youth, called Mubadarati. These loans are available to young men and women aged 18-30 to start new businesses that create self-employment and employment for others. Originally launched in the West Bank and Gaza, the product is also available in Jordan and Syria. Mubadarati is the first youth start-up loan product of its kind in the region.
This is a personal loan for working-class families that have no access to bank credit. It is intended to help them build household assets, pay for education and household services, while helping low-income clients recover household assets sold to cope with unemployment, ill health, or one-off social outlays, like weddings and funerals. The loan ceiling is three times the client’s monthly salary.
This is a loan to help families with no access to mortgage facilities to improve, expand or acquire housing. Loan values range from US$ 3,000 to US$ 15,000. The HLP was successfully piloted in Gaza in 2006, and extended to the West Bank in 2008. Lack of capital has prevented extension into Jordan and Syria.
The department runs a training programme for small-business owners in Gaza, offering them customized training in subjects such as book-keeping, taxation, computing and e-commerce. The direct costs of each course are paid by the participants, with donor grants covering remaining overheads. Since 1995, 24,650 persons have participated in 1,152 courses and workshops.