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Source: USAID West Bank & Gaza
19 January 2005




USAID releases $2 million for women entrepreneurs


Ramallah, West Bank - The American government is releasing $2 million to the "Palestine for Credit & Development" organization, FATEN, to support micro-finance activities for Palestinian women.

The $2 million will be used to provide small loans to an estimated 3,000 women entrepreneurs seeking to establish or improve their businesses.

FATEN has made 63,579 loans to the poorest and most marginalized Palestinian women since it emerged from a micro-finance program launched in the West Bank and Gaza by Save the Children (US) in 1995. Its loans have totaled more than $27 million, with the average loan size $427.

The largest micro-finance institution in the West Bank and Gaza, FATEN currently has 3,319 active clients, 99% of them women, with outstanding loans totaling $2.4 million.

FATEN has financed women who want to open a corner grocery store or beauty parlor. It also gives credit to rural women, like the lady who took out a loan to buy a cow and now has nine and a lucrative milk supply business. Some 40 % of the loans have been in the trade sector, 25% in the service sector, 17% to production ventures and 14% for agricultural enterprises.

Though repayment rates suffered during the period of severe economic crisis caused by the Intifada, FATEN reported a 97.23% repayment rate in 2004 thanks to its personalized client services.

FATEN, an independent Palestinian not-for-profit corporation, has five offices in Gaza and five in the West Bank.

The $2 million is the second injection of cash from the American people to the FATEN program. The first was in 1996 when USAID gave FATEN $4.5 million. Between 2001 and the end of 2004, USAID was reluctant to release funds obligated to FATEN because of risks associated with the Intifada. USAID did, however, support FATEN's operational expenses. In late 2004, Save the Children and FATEN had cut operational expenses and established an internal auditing unit and USAID decided that they could effectively manage new funds.

USAID is a U.S. government agency that provides economic development and humanitarian assistance overseas. Since 1994, USAID's West Bank and Gaza Mission has distributed more than $1.3 billion in assistance to Palestinians.


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