ADVISORY BOARD - UNRWA Khalil Naqa Accounts and Finance Officer, Gaza Ayed Al-Zeghari Verification...
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Transcript of ADVISORY BOARD - UNRWA Khalil Naqa Accounts and Finance Officer, Gaza Ayed Al-Zeghari Verification...
Ellis Margot - Chairperson Deputy Commissioner-General
Alex Pollock Secretary - Director Microfinance Department
Vacant Member - Local Microfinance Expert
Bernard Laufenberg Member - Director of Finance
John Ging Member - Director of UNRWA Operations, Gaza
Barbara Shenstone Member - Director of UNRWA Operations, West Bank
Richard Cook Member - Director of UNRWA Operations, Jordan
Henry Jackelen Member - International Microfinance Expert
Beth Kuttab Member - Director of Relief and Social Services
Roger Hearn Member - Director of UNRWA Affairs, Syrian Arab Republic
Jane Giacaman Non-voting Member - Chief Microfinance Operations
Alex Pollock Director Microfinance Department
May Bandak Personal Assistant to the Director
Jane Giacaman Chief Microfinance Operations
Wissam Said Chief of Finance
Munther Kaloti Accounts and Finance Officer
Khalil Naqa Accounts and Finance Officer, Gaza
Ayed Al-Zeghari Verification Officer
Ahmed Hussain Acting Verification Officer, Gaza
Naila Hazboun Quality Control & Assurance Officer
Ayman Abdullah MIS Consultant
Salim Musallam Monitoring and Evaluation Officer
Ansam Barham Statistician
Maher Matar Business Economist, Gaza
Nabil Darwish Marketing Officer
CENTRAL OFFICE STAFF
In 2009, as UNRWA commemorated the sixtieth anniversary of its founding, our Microfinance Department marked another year of steady growth and continued organizational development in the Gaza Strip and West Bank, Jordan, and Syria. Over the course of the year, the department invested USD 37.13 million in 28,373 loans, increasing its annual disbursements by an additional USD 5.4 million and extending its outreach by 16 percent. This new milestone was matched by positive growth in net income which closed the year at USD 1.49 million, up 155 percent on 2008. While it is heartening to report such improved performance, it is disquieting to note that this year was also framed by extraordinary tragedy and hardship for many of UNRWA’s beneficiaries. Erupting just before the New Year, intensive armed conflict wrought suffering and hardship in the Gaza Strip unprecedented since 1967. The subsequent continuation of Israel’s blockade of the enclave greatly hampered the task of rebuilding shattered homes, and livelihoods, a task in which the department would normally play an important role. Yet throughout this period the department also continued to demonstrate both perseverance and a forward-thinking approach.
Though it was impossible under prevailing conditions to sustain the modest outreach growth achieved in the Gaza Strip in 2008, the department’s operations there continued to evince resilience and resourcefulness. It maintained a 97 percent self-sufficiency rate under the most adverse conditions, and set the stage for renewed expansion in 2010, not least with the introduction of larger, longer- term microenterprise “credit plus” loans. Growth also tapered-off in a maturing West Bank environment, where the department switched gears to expand retailing of its microenterprise credit plus product and to introduce the women’s household credit product. In Jordan and Syria, meanwhile, the department reaffirmed its growing importance to the aspirations of Palestine refugees across the wider Middle East, and the communities which host them. Outreach grew by 30 percent and 45 percent respectively in these markets. By year’s end a total of 16,672 loans valued at USD 17.42 million had been extended in Jordan and Syria, both new records.
MESSAGE FROM THE COMMISSIONER-GENERAL
The department’s overall expansion of outreach in 2009 was owed in considerable part to continued support from the OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID), which in July 2009 committed USD 3 million to the PalFund Trust Fund, taking its cumulative investment in the department’s operations in the oPt to USD 10 million. Fittingly, the agreement signalling this landmark was signed by my predecessor, Karen Koning AbuZayd. During her time as UNRWA’s Commissioner- General, Karen saw the department grapple with some of the most difficult conditions faced by any microfinance provider in the world. In this, and many other respects, she leaves behind an extraordinary legacy of commitment to Palestine refugees, and their quest for a better future.
As has become increasingly clear over past years, access to broader sources of finance will be required if the department is to deliver fully on the promise of microfinance in a region with so much potential still waiting to be tapped. This would entail far-ranging organizational transformation. In 2009, a business restructuring study was commissioned. Its recommendations are being carefully studied, bearing in mind the desirability of reforms to strengthen microfinance operations and ensure their sustainability, while safeguarding the essence of the Agency’s mission alongside the interests of Palestine refugees. By bolstering economic security, self-reliance, and enabling households to make investments in education and health, microfinance remains a central means of sustaining our clients’ hopes for a better tomorrow. In the coming year we hope that the department will be able fully resume this work in Gaza, where we long to see an end to its longstanding confinement and impoverishment.
Looking further ahead, we see the department sustaining more hopeful horizons for Palestine refugees and their communities.
Commissioner-General United Nations Relief and Works Agency
for Palestine Refugees in the Near East
UNRWA’s Microfinance Department endeavours to improve the quality of life of small business owners, microentrepreneurs and poor households through the provision of credit and other financial services that sustain jobs, decrease unemployment, reduce poverty, economically empower women and youth and provide income-generating and asset- building opportunities to Palestine refugees and other proximate poor and marginal groups. The department also seeks to provide safe-saving services to poor clients to help them save for the future and provide a financial safety net to help them cope with personal and family emergencies and crises. The department strives to provide scalable interventions with measurable macroeconomic impact by concentrating its financial services in poorer urban areas where there is a high density of Palestine refugees.
Today Palestine refugees in the Middle East number over 4.7 million. The task of UNRWA’S Microfinance Department (MD) is to extend credit and complimentary financial services to them, as well as other poor or marginal groups who live and work in close proximity to them. Targeting business owners, microentrepreneurs and households, this lending is guided in part by economic objectives: to sustain and create jobs, reduce poverty and boost economic security. However, its aim is also to support human development more broadly, by sustaining household consumption and family investments in housing, education and health. Ultimately, we seek to empower our clients, and in this respect particularly target women and youth, as well as other economically and socially vulnerable groups.
The department conceives of its mission within the context of the United Nation’s vision of building inclusive financial services for the poor. Many of its clients operate small, often informal businesses on the margins of the economy. They include vegetable stall-holders, at-home seamstresses, garage owners and fishermen. Many run businesses that are not registered with the government, let alone municipal or tax authorities. The vast majority are unable to secure credit from commercial banks. Yet if provided with such loans they do have the ability to repay them, while generating sustainable incomes for themselves, as well as their families and employees, many of whom are drawn from the poorest segments of society. The services of the department help to close the virtuous circle of opportunity and self-reliance.
The department carries out its mission in accordance with those standards and best practices that have been developed within the global microfinance industry. At the core of its service model is the understanding that microcredit and related financial services must be sustainable. This means that it aims to recoup its operating expenses, while charging rates of interest that are not only affordable to clients but also competitive vis-à-vis other microfinance providers. In this context, it strives to make its outreach operations as cost-effective as possible. Accordingly it focuses its work in poor urban areas, which are both centres of commercial and industrial activity and host a high concentration of Palestine refugees.
Human Development The Microfinance Department supports UNRWA’s human development goal of: “A Decent Standard of Living” by programming its microfinance activities under the strategic objective of providing: “Inclusive financial services and increased access to credit and saving facilities”. Its business plan integrates its mission statement and builds upon and integrates UNRWA’s Medium Term Strategy, the MD’s Headquarter Implementation Plan and the MD components of the Field Implementation Plans in a broad corporate and field strategy for the department.
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