Home to eight branch offices, the West Bank has the most extensive network of the four areas served by the UNRWA Department of Microfinance. Since the programme’s initiation in 1996, clients of the West Bank have received 28 per cent of UNRWA cumulative lending – 135,360 loans worth a total of US $189.6 million.
The economy of the West Bank remains fragile and donors have an important role in the microfinance industry. UNRWA is one of the largest lenders in the market. In 2017, UNRWA granted 10,343 loans worth US $14.6 million.
We are particularly proud of our outreach to women. The number of loans given to women in 2017 constitute 39 per cent of our clients, receiving 4,020 loans worth US$5.0 million. We also saw growth in the number and amount of loans that help Palestine refugees build assets or pay for expenses, and in loans for the smallest businesses.
UNRWA is eager to work with young people in the West Bank, based on our belief that giving access to credit and loans is a powerful tool to help youth create new opportunities for entrepreneurship and self-employment. In 2017, youth clients between 18 and 30 years accounted for 39 per cent of overall clients, receiving 4,060 loans worth US $5.29 million. By providing young people with access to different forms and amounts of credit based on their needs, desires and plans, we can help them find opportunities to improve their future.