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OPIC Provides $10 Million for Small Business Lending in Israel

January 7, 2010

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) will provide $10 million in financing to support expanded lending to small businesses in Israel, a project which is expected to generate up to $140 million in new lending and at least 7000 new jobs in two impoverished regions of the country.

The OPIC loan guaranty will support a small business loan guaranty program run by Koret Israel Economic Development Funds (KIEDF), an Israeli nonprofit organization. The project will enable Bank Leumi, a major Israeli bank, to increase its lending to Jewish and Israeli-Arab borrowers identified by KIEDF, largely in the impoverished regions of Gilboa and Negev. The American Friends of Koret Israel Economic Development Funds, a nonprofit corporation based in California, is the U.S. sponsor of the project.

The Portland Trust, a nonprofit British foundation committed to promoting peace and stability between Palestinians and Israelis through economic development, is also supporting the project.

Israeli President Shimon Peres presided over the launch of the project at a ceremony today at the President's Residence in Jerusalem. Bank Leumi president and CEO Galia Maor, Koret Foundation Israel chairwoman Inbal Giladi, and Portland Trust chairman Sir Ronald Cohen joined Peres at the ceremony.

“OPIC is pleased to support this project, which will encourage the growth of small businesses in two impoverished regions of Israel. As such, it serves as a compliment to OPIC’s recent projects in the West Bank, and we hope that their economic benefits will encourage stability in the region,” said OPIC Acting President Dr. Lawrence Spinelli.

OPIC was established as an agency of the U.S. government in 1971. It helps U.S. businesses invest overseas, fosters economic development in new and emerging markets, complements the private sector in managing risks associated with foreign direct investment, and supports U.S. foreign policy. Because OPIC charges market-based fees for its products, it operates on a self-sustaining basis at no net cost to taxpayers.

OPIC’s political risk insurance and financing help U.S. businesses of all sizes invest in more than 150 emerging markets and developing nations worldwide. Over the agency's 38-year history, OPIC has supported $188 billion worth of investments that have helped developing countries to generate over 830,000 host-country jobs. OPIC projects have also generated $72 billion in U.S. exports and supported more than 273,000 American jobs.