30 August 2007 – With Palestinians going through “one of the most dramatic and difficult periods of their troubled history,” micro-credit can play a vital role for survival and recovery in the occupied territory, a senior United Nations official said today (30/8/2007).
“Palestinian small businesses and micro-enterprises face formidable challenges as they operate in a state of economic and financial siege that is limiting their capacity for normal development and growth, with markets severed from customary trading partners,” said Filippo Grandi, Deputy Commissioner-General of the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which cares for millions of Palestinian refugees.
“Much has been said – and rightly so – about restrictions imposed upon the movement of people and goods in and around the West Bank and Gaza,” he noted at a signing ceremony in Vienna for a $4.5 million contribution by the OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID) to UNRWA, referring to Israel’s closure of crossings.
OFID’s earlier contribution of $2.5 million enabled UNRWA to finance over 2,600 loans to Palestinian micro-enterprises. As clients repaid these loans, UNRWA was able to finance a further 6,600 loans worth $7.5 million. Thus, over the past three years the PalFund financed over 9,200 micro-enterprise loans valued at just under $10 million, almost a quarter of which were to women micro-entrepreneurs