Why have Lendwithcare started operating in the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and Gaza?
In addition to the Palestinian territories, Lendwithcare has operations in 11 countries in Africa, Asia and South America where CARE implements humanitarian and development programs. Lendwithcare’s work in the Palestinian territories will be our first operation in the Middle East. Lendwithcare aims to work in countries where poor people struggle to access basic financial services, and in places where we think that micro loans will be a practicable and effective means of tackling poverty. The final prerequisite is the presence of existing microfinance institutions (MFIs) for us to forge a partnership with, and that they conform to our stringent ethical criteria.
When looking to expand into the Middle East, the Palestinian territories is an area with the greatest demonstrable need, and with the necessary infrastructure in place to make Lendwithcare operations possible. CARE has been operational in the Palestinian territories since 1948. Our programs focus on economic empowerment and humanitarian assistance by supporting the most vulnerable Palestinians (in particular women and youth) in meeting their basic needs and building their long-term capacity to maintain a resilient livelihood. CARE's impact goal is that "By 2030, vulnerable women and youth from Palestinian communities will realize their rights, reach their full life potential and contribute to a vibrant, equitable and accountable Palestinian society." We are excited about adding Lendwithcare to the range of ways CARE is working towards this goal.
Are you also working in Israel? If not, why not?
CARE has no religious affiliations and is apolitical. One of the main factors that guides where we work is the magnitude of the need. CARE is a poverty alleviation charity and we concentrate our efforts on work in the world’s poorest communities and countries. The latest figures from the World Bank indicate that Israel has a GNI per capita of more than USD$35,300 and is listed as the 30th wealthiest country in the world. The Palestinian territories of the West Bank and Gaza have a poverty rate of 25.8% and a GNI of just USD$3,060 per capita. So the need there is greater for poverty alleviation projects like CARE’s.
How do you know funds are not going to break any sanctions or fund terrorism?
Like all our MFI partners, the organisations we work with in the Palestinian Territories have undergone rigorous research and are deemed to have met with our stringent ethical criteria. Due to the elevated security situation in the region, our partners and entrepreneurs in the West Bank and Gaza undergo additional verification. In the majority of cases (about 60%) our microfinance partner in the Palestinian Territories will buy and deliver the machinery, tools, animals or any other items requested by an entrepreneur and financed by Lendwithcare. Repayments are made monthly and in cash by entrepreneurs.
Is there a risk that you are helping people to start businesses in the Palestinian Territories, and then their livelihoods are destroyed in a future conflict?
The Palestinian Territories are within a volatile region, but more than 4.4 million people live in the West Bank and Gaza and, like everywhere, they need to earn a living. We believe that in helping people to increase their income and tackle poverty, they may become less vulnerable to the effects of conflict and will be in a better position to stay safe, to continue with their livelihoods during peace time, and to be more hopeful about the future.
If livelihoods are destroyed in future conflict, what will happen to entrepreneur’s debts? Will loans be written off?
What other work is CARE doing to assist the people of the Palestinian Territories?
CARE has been working in the West Bank and Gaza since 1948. Today, we continue to meet humanitarian needs – most recently during the conflict in 2014 – by working with Palestinian communities and local organizations to provide urgent medical services during conflict and to promote sustainable and resilient rural livelihoods. We work closely with local government and community-based organisations to strengthen opportunities for livelihoods. We particularly focus on meeting the needs of poor, vulnerable, marginalised and isolated people. We work with local organisations to increase the participation of women and marginalised groups in decision-making at all levels. For more information visit our website.