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Changing lives in Gaza by providing access to credit - Case study: Salah Taha from Gaza

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This article originally appeared in Palestine Business Focus Magazine.

"CHF-Ryada is helping me maintain stable future education for my children."

Salah is 42 years old from Gaza. He is married and has 5 children. He asked CHF-Ryada for the first $4,000 in 2010 to start up his own project: a small poultry farm. He already had 13 years of work experience in this sector.

He bought cages and poultry to increase productivity, and after improving his financial situation CHF-Ryada proudly renewed their microfinance agreement with a further loan of $8,000 to enlarge the space, build a new farm and buy more materials.

Salah now has three of his children at school, and one further child resuming his higher education studies at university. The family is now living a stable financial life. Salah's ambition was to have his own project and be able to provide his family and children with the best life and education he can offer them.

"I can finally feel content regarding the future of my children, thanks to CHF-Ryada," he proudly states.

An Overview of CHF-Ryada Initiated in 1994, CHF-Ryada offers microfinance products in Palestine providing services to low and moderate-income businesses, homeowners, and consumers in the West Bank and Gaza who cannot access credit from commercial banking institutions. CHF-Ryada provides products for housing, small business loans, youth products and consumption loans. To date, they have handed out around $100m since 1994, improving 15,000 family homes, developing 6,200 small business projects, and meeting different personal needs of people through consumption loans to improve people's lives for a better future.

During 2012, the outstanding portfolio reached to $14.4m, $12m of which was disbursed. CHF-Ryada won the award for 'Best Portfolio Quality' in Palestine and achieved the 'Lowest Portfolio at Risk' percentage (1.4%), when compared to other Palestinian microfinance institutions.

CHF-Ryada partners with the 6 major banks in Palestine to operate its microfinance programmes which enable it to access commercial loan portfolios and build its profile as a solid investment business. CHF-Ryada has been a partner of KIVA since 2008, and is now an active member in Sharakeh (the Palestine Microfinance network), Sanabel (Microfinance Network of Arabic Countries), and MIX Market. Today, CHF-Ryada is one of the largest microfinance providers in the West Bank and Gaza.

CHF-Ryada's vision is to be the pioneer in offering financial services to build societies, its mission is to be a leader in microfinance services in Palestine providing demand-driven, diversified financial services in a stable, efficient and sustainable manner to improve the living conditions of the Palestinian people.

Target Market and Areas of Operation:
CHF-Ryada serves low to moderate income Palestinians who cannot access credit from commercial banking institutions. It serves businesses in all sectors and currently 20% of borrowers are females.

CHF-Ryada covers the entire Palestinian Territory through six branch offices including Nablus; Hebron (covering Hebron and Bethlehem); Ramallah (covering Ramallah and Jericho); Tulkarem, Jenin, and in Gaza (covering Gaza city, northern Gaza, and Khan Younis).

CHF-Ryada offers four main loan products: home improvement loans (HIL), Micro business loans, consumer loans; in addition to the start-up loans for youths. Loans are made and repaid in U.S. dollars. CHF-Ryada maintains interest rates that allow it to be competitive in the market whilst ensuring cost recovery. Interest rates are monitored and reviewed periodically.

CHF-Ryada (soon changing its name to Vitas Palestine) is Global Communities' microfinance institution in Palestine. To learn more about Vitas' lending work, visit: http://www.vitasgroup.com.