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Senior Vice President and COO Visits CHF Projects in Palestine

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CHF’s Senior Vice President and COO, Chris Sale, reports from her trip to the West Bank, where she was inspired by hardworking entrepreneurs, vibrant communities and innovative construction projects.

I'm en route home from the West Bank where we have a very diversified portfolio. First on the agenda was our middle market team where we are supporting key developments aimed at financial sector development. In partnership with Middle East Investment Initiative [MEII] we are assisting in the development of local banks’ portfolios of loans to small and growing businesses. Like anywhere else, businesses need capital to grow, which in turn generates jobs and economic development.

We are also partnering with MEII on an initiative to help develop the mortgage market for Palestinians who otherwise cannot have access to mortgages. These activities rely on funding from OPIC, the IFC and most importantly the Palestinian Authority's own Palestinian Investment Fund.

My second stop was at CHF’s microfinance activity, Ryada, one of the first credit programs in the Palestinian territories. They are directly providing loans to small businesses. We visited Maradal Batron, who imports concentrated scents, mixes them to customers’ specifications and sells perfume. He learned the business while living in Jordan and has had his shop for six years. Maradal has taken two loans from Ryada mainly as working capital. He is now planning to take a larger loan, which will enable him to open a second store in another town.

We then visited a young man who started a computer repair business. Our loans have helped him move to a larger space to begin to carry new hardware for sale. Things have gone so well for him that he plans to open a second shop in a nearby village with a partner who specializes in software. When that second store opens, he will have six employees.

Our last visit was with a cell phone shop. Operating out of store front space the size of a closet -- about two square meters-- the young owner is doing quite nicely. He has taken two loans from us, and is planning another soon to expand his display cabinet. You can imagine the shop has to be ship-tight to make the best use of available space and he is slowly evolving a design to do just that.