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LendforPeace…for Kids? yep.
April 29, 2011

LendforPeace Community,

We’ve often preached that while the Israeli-Palestinian is complicated, making a difference does not have to be.  If you didn’t believe us, maybe you will believe 13 year-old Brandon Hirsh.

Brandon recently launched his own website, lfpforkids.com, that introduces his peers to the concepts embodied by our LendforPeace.org micro-lending platform.  Admittedly, we never saw 13 year-olds as part of our target audience.  But Brandon wants to change that.

He understands, perhaps better than we ever did, that microfinance for peace is about something much more fundamental, something much more “child-like”, than politics or economics.  It’s about giving people who have been denied opportunity the opportunity they deserve; an opportunity that allows them to provide for their children and build vibrant, empowered communities.  Brandon’s site reminds us that peace does not look like a political document or a celebrated hand-shake.  Peace looks like parents providing for their children, and children riding safe buses to financially supported schools where they don’t have to fear air raids.

It’s worth noting that since September 2000 alone, 1,463 Palestinian and 124 Israeli children have been killed by violence associated with the conflict.  Visit www.rememberthesechildren.org to learn more about these numbers, and then visit Brandon’s site to see what one “child” is doing about them.

Before you do that though, meet Brandon:

Brandon

Homecity?

“New York City Metro Area”

Would you rather see the Yankees win the world series, or the Red Sox lose the world series?

“Yankees all the way. Although it’s always a nice consolation prize to see the Red Sox lose. :D”

Would you rather see the Yankees win the world series, or see the Middle East become a land of peace and equal opportunity for Israelis and Palestinians?

“Definitely see the Middle East become a land of peace and equal opportunity. The Yankees can wait, and win next year. The Middle East problem cannot.”

I thought most kids your age spent their free-time managing a facebook profile and tweeting @justinbieber, so in two sentences or less, why did you spend your free-time creating lfpforkids.com?

I spent my free time creating lfpforkids.com because I believe that to have the Middle East be a peaceful place, while combining my interests in technology and site designing, would be a great way to do my bar mitzvah project.”

And now that you’ve met him, go check out Brandon’s site: www.lfpforkids.com

-The LFP Team

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LFP Re-Engagement
April 11, 2011

Dear LendforPeace Community,

It’s been too long since we’ve talked.  Way too long.

Our reticence has been our response to what has been a pretty tumultuous few months for the LFP team and the LendforPeace.org platform.  As you may have noticed, there has been a dearth of entrepreneurs posted on the site for the last few months.  We wish we could tell you that the reason for this was that there is no longer a need for micro-capital in Palestine; that unemployment levels and other poverty indicators have miraculously plummeted, giving way to pervasive self-sufficiency and unprecedented opportunities for the working poor.  We sincerely wish we could tell you this, but of course, this is not the case.

Some five months ago we were (quite surprisingly) included in a list of organizations being boycotted by a widespread and influential campaign in Palestine.  Ultimately, the boycott was lifted after a long process of clarifying and re-clarifying the LendforPeace mission to those boycotting us, the same mission you have supported since you first helped empower a Palestinian entrepreneur on our site.  While emotionally exhausting, the process of genuinely addressing the boycott undoubtedly reaffirmed the fact that LendforPeace.org remains as relevant and necessary as ever.

That said, we are excited to say that last week we officially re-initiated our partnership with entrepreneurs in the Palestinian Territories.  There are new entrepreneurs on the site, and as the LendforPeace community lends, new entrepreneurs will take their place.

Thank you for your patience over the last few months.  We look forward to this “re-initiation” process, and hope to have lots of news for you in the coming weeks and months, including updates from the field, as we try to compensate for lost time!

Thanks again for your patience and continued support,

The LFP Team

LFP Statement Concerning the “Invest, Don’t Divest” Campaign
December 20, 2010

Dear LendforPeace community,

In recent months Lendforpeace.org has been on the receiving end of significant criticism stemming from the false perception that we are formally associated or aligned with J-StreetU’s “Invest, Don’t Divest” campaign.

Regrettably, the LFP team failed to realize how being promoted by Invest, Don’t Divest would create the false perception that LendforPeace.org is aligned with their campaign. This perception is unequivocally false: Lendforpeace.org has never endorsed the Invest, Don’t Divest campaign. Obviously, the LFP team believes that we have a responsibility to promote investing in Palestinian entrepreneurs, and by extension, investment in the “context for a sustainable peace”.  Here our mission resonates with the investment campaign promoted by J-StreetU.  However, our organizational commitment to this type of investment is predicated on our organizational opposition to Palestinian poverty, not any sort of political allegiance to J-Street U or any other political movement.   We sincerely hope that no one committed to our vision of opportunity and peace in the Middle East suggests otherwise.

Like the large community of people who have used the Lendforpeace.org platform, the LFP team is comprised of a diverse collection of cultural identities and political convictions.  We each have our own individual feelings about campaigns like Invest, Don’t Divest,  but as an organization these feelings are superseded by a shared commitment to ending Palestinian poverty.  While enthusiastically inviting you to join us in actualizing this commitment, we also must ask that you not do so in a way that misrepresents our mission and our community by advertently or inadvertently associating us with a broader political initiative.  LendforPeace is and will continue to be a non-political organization, whose mission is to use microfinance to support Palestinian entrepreneurs who are trying to start small businesses so that they can provide for their families and build-up their communities.  For some, this mission may seem too narrow, but for the more than 50% of Palestinians who live in poverty, deprived of their right to self-sufficiency and self-determination, we can assure you it is not.

Thank you for your continued support.  Please do not hesitate to email our Outreach Director, Garret (garret@lendforpeace.org), with any questions or concerns raised by this letter.

In peace,

The LFP team

2009 in Review – LendforPeace.org
December 30, 2009

As 2009 is coming to a close, we are writing to update you on LendforPeace.org and the progress that we have made this year.

On behalf of our partners and borrowers: THANK YOU! We are grateful that you have chosen to join us in creating economic opportunity in the Middle East. Thanks to you and hundreds of other lenders like you, LendforPeace.org has contributed positively to the region by funding more than forty entrepreneurs since we launched less than ten months ago.

In our first ten months:

  • LendforPeace.org catalyzed more than $40,000 in loans.
  • LendforPeace.org received grants from Ashoka Youth Ventures, the Clinton Global Initiative, and Davis Projects for Peace.
  • LendforPeace.org collaborated with JStreetU to reach college students and to promote the idea that fighting poverty is a shared human goal.
  • In April, LendforPeace.org was featured on Fox Business.
  • In July, Craig Newmark, the founder of Craigslist.org, joined LendforPeace.org as a member of our advisory board. Craig has been an outspoken advocate for peace in the region and we are very excited to have him on board.
  • Thanks to two passionate volunteers, LendforPeace.org was featured at independent bookstore McNally Jackson in New York City just before the holiday season.

If you believe in the work that we are doing at LendforPeace.org, we encourage you to spread the word and to consider making another loan.

Thank you for being a part of the LendforPeace.org community. With your support, we hope to make 2010 even more successful than 2009!

Visit us at LendforPeace.org
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Bill Clinton ties extremism to lack of opportunity
November 24, 2009

Earlier this month, former President Bill Clinton was speaking at the American University in Dubai when he was asked by an audience member “What leads people to suicide bombing?”  President Clinton’s answer mirrors the belief we share at LendforPeace.org that violence is a product of its socio-economic context.

“[Suicide bombers] believe, absent some cataclysmic and destructive event, that tomorrow is going to be just like yesterday,” said Clinton.  “Peace is not just the absence of conflict.  It is the presence of opportunity and cooperation and a sense of justice and fairness and movement.”

Clinton went on to highlight the need to promote education, equality and economic opportunity in fighting extremism. He reminded the students in attendance that “we cannot shoot our way out of the world’s instability.”

At LendforPeace.org, we help people use microlending to contribute to an environment of economic opportunity in the Middle East.  If you believe, as we do, that economic development can foster a more stable and peaceful region, consider visiting us online to make a loan or to help spread the word.

LendforPeace.org Partners with McNally Jackson Books
November 22, 2009

At LendforPeace.org, we think of our mission as extending beyond the field of international development and into the realms of awareness and education.  We work with a region tied to many contentious and complicated issues, and one in which mutual understanding will be necessary in order to bridge the divides of borders, political opinions, religions, and ethnicities.  LendforPeace.org is a good venue for this kind of dialogue because it is a common ground initiative; no matter where you stand politically, we can all agree that there is no winner in poverty.

It is this emphasis on education that makes us so excited to announce a collaboration with McNally Jackson Books in SoHo, orchestrated by two LendForPeace volunteers.

LendforPeace.org Display at McNally Jackson Books

McNally Jackson is currently featuring a LendforPeace.org themed display with five very informative books chosen by LendForPeace.org: “The Missing Peace” by Dennis Ross, “Inequality Reexamined” by Amartya Sen, “Banker To the Poor” by Muhammad Yunus, “The Israel-Arab Reader” edited by Walter Lacquer and Barry Rubin, and “How to Change the World: Social Entrepreneurs and the Power of New Ideas” by David Bornstein. We hope the selection can bring a bit of background and understanding to anyone interested in the work LendforPeace.org does.

If you’re in the area, please drop by McNally Jackson at 52 Prince St. to pick up an LendForPeace.org flier and a couple of these excellent books!

Signs of economic improvement in the West Bank
August 3, 2009

We were happy to see the recent press about improving economic conditions in the West Bank.  The International Monetary Fund is forecasting a 7% growth rate for 2009, the highest rate of growth since the Intifada.  Leaders in the PA, Israel and US responded favorably and are advocating continued efforts to sustain the recent trends. Prime Minister Netanyahu called on Diaspora Jews to assist Arabs in investing in the Palestinian economy and Secretary of State Clinton issued a $200 million aid package to the Palestinian Authority to support continued growth.

We, like Secretary Clinton, believe that it is more important than ever to contribute to economic development in the Palestinian territories.  While state-level aid will support growth at the large enterprise and public sector level, there is just as large a need for support at the bottom of the pyramid.  Remember, microenterprises make up 95% of all businesses in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and 90% have no access to credit services.  We believe that microfinance can play an important role in sustaining the recent progress and in catalyzing further growth in the future.

Craigslist Founder, Craig Newmark, joins LendforPeace.org Advisory Board!
July 22, 2009

We are very proud to announce that Craig Newmark, the founder of Craigslist.org, has joined the LendforPeace.org team as a member of our Advisory Board.

Craig is one of the pioneers of community-building on the web and has long been a supporter of peace initiatives in the Middle East.  We couldn’t be more excited to work with such a well known and influential web entrepreneur and social activist.

To see the full press release on Craig’s involvement with LendforPeace.org, CLICK HERE.

Craig Newmark, Founder of Craigslist.org and LendforPeace.org Advisory Board Member

Craig Newmark, Founder of Craigslist.org and LendforPeace.org Advisory Board Member

LendforPeace.org featured on Fox Business
April 11, 2009

LendforPeace.org Featured on Fox Business

LendforPeace.org was featured yesterday on Fox’s national business network Fox Business.

To see a clip of the interview with LendforPeace.org Co-Founder David Fraga, CLICK HERE.

David Gutelius Joins LendforPeace.org’s Advisory Board
February 3, 2009

LendforPeace.org is honored to welcome David Gutelius to its Advisory Board.  Dr. Gutelius is a well-respected professional in the fields of both microeconomic development and social media technology.  He brings a diverse and esteemed background as an individual who has on the one hand spent years consulting the world’s most prestigious organizations on doing business in the Middle East, and on the other helped lead the largest artificial intelligence research project in history.

As both a mechanism for economic development and as a platform with the potential to humanize conflict through social media, LendforPeace.org is well suited to Dr. Gutelius’ talents.   We at LendforPeace.org look forward to working with Dr. Gutelius along with the rest of the advisory board to maximize our impact in both capacities.  Please find Dr. Gutelius’ bio below:

Dr. David Gutelius is a co-founder and Chief Technical Officer at Social Kinetics, a Silicon Valley pioneer in adaptive social media technologies. A specialist in social networks and economics, he co-founded the Social Computing Lab at the Artificial Intelligence Center at SRI International. Gutelius also co-founded and ran Ishtirak, a technology and microeconomic development counsultancy focused exclusively on the Middle East and Islamic Africa, serving clients from IBM to Frito Lay to Beruit Container Terminal and helping to scale regional microfinance operations Sanabel and Grameen-Jameel, LTD. He currently serves as an advisor to Meedan and on the board of Teachers Without Borders. Previously, Gutelius was a Visiting Professor at Stanford University.

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