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  • Creative Design / Production: UNRWA MD Central O�ce - Marketing Unit Print Service Production: xxxxx company Photography Credits: - J.C. Torday - Shareef Sarhan - Carol Al-Farah - UNRWA MD Marketing Unit

  • 1

    Margot Ellis - 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 Verification Officer, Gaza

    Mohammad Danan Verification Officer, Syria

    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


    Creative Design / Production: UNRWA MD Central O�ce - Marketing Unit Print Service Production: xxxxx company Photography Credits: - J.C. Torday - Shareef Sarhan - Carol Al-Farah - UNRWA MD Marketing Unit

  • 2

    In 2010, UNRWA’s microfinance department recorded another year of expanding outreach and organisational growth. While tempered in part by mounting operational challenges and enduring political constraints, the programme’s continuing success offered hope for some of the programme’s most hard-pressed clients. Continuing its positive performance of recent years, the department set new records for the number of clients reached through UNRWA’s regional microfinance activities, as well as the overall impact of this lending. Over the course of the year, its staff in the West Bank, Gaza, Jordan, and Syria issued 33,593 loans valued at USD 42.29 million, bringing the department’s cumulative investments since 1991 to USD 256.86 million. Most notable was the improved performance of the programme in Syria, where lending continued to grow by over 40 percent annually, boosted further by the opening of two new branch offices in Aleppo and Douma. Crowning this was UNRWA’s achievement of maintaining its record as the first microfinance operation in Syria to be operationally self-sufficient. Also gratifying was the fact that the department’s activities in the Gaza Strip contributed to this growth. This was in spite of Gaza’s continuing travails and the enduring frustration of its beleaguered inhabitants. The tragic events that affected the Gaza flotilla in international waters on May 31 renewed the focus of the international community on the blockade of Gaza. UNRWA has long advocated for the complete lifting of the blockade, knowing first-hand the impact on Gaza’s 1.5 million inhabitants of blanket prohibitions on exports from the enclave, as well as on the importation of many basic consumer goods. By the beginning of 2010, all Gaza inhabitants relied heavily on smuggled goods from Egypt to meet basic needs, yet few had the means to afford the high prices. With unemployment hovering around 45 percent, by mid-2010 some 80 percent of Gazans were dependent on food aid. Since 2007, UNRWA has played a central role in sustaining Gaza livelihoods. As with other aid organisations, however, our inability to import sufficient quantities of materials stymied reconstruction efforts in 2010, including the construction of urgently needed refugee housing and schools. UNRWA accordingly welcomed the easing of the blockade announced by Israel’s government on June 20, 2010, including a commitment to facilitate UN construction projects in Gaza, and the granting of partial access to some consumer goods in the enclave. However, we are concerned that Gaza’s export channels remain curtailed, and the inflow of construction materials are a fraction of pre-2007 levels, continuing to set back not only UN-sponsored projects, but also most private residential and commercial construction by Gazans, who suffer an increasingly extreme housing shortage. Ultimately, however, humanitarian assistance cannot replace a functioning economy.


  • 3

    Against this backdrop, the department’s performance in Gaza in 2010 was especially heartening. In recent years, the programme has had to pare back lending dramatically in Gaza in order to safeguard operational sustainability, riding out a storm of defaults that shuttered many other local microfinance providers. On the back of a moderate economic rebound in Gaza starting in late 2009, the department was able to grow local outreach by 50 percent in 2010 and loan disbursements by a full 91 percent, providing some 3,600 beleaguered micro-entrepreneurs and households with over USD 7 million in new credit. Overall, despite a lapse in staff productivity in the West Bank – where productivity nevertheless remains high by industry standards – and a lapse in Jordan, which experienced a slow-down and partial regression of outreach, the department sustained its long-term growth trend in 2010, expanding its total outreach by 18 percent and its financing by 14 percent. In the field of organisational development and capacity building, the department also made further strides in 2010. The year began with the launch of a new branch office-based incentive scheme that underscores the department’s continuous efforts to improve the responsiveness and productivity of its field operations. The opening of a new branch office in Jericho in late 2010 is expected to give an incremental boost to West Bank lending, and to further enhance the capacity of the programme’s impressive branch office network there. Looking further ahead, the department also took critical steps towards examining the prospects for future transformation. Recognizing the increasing constraints of grant-based financing on the potential of the programme, the Agency continued exploration, together with strategic stakeholders, of how UNRWA could best secure the future of its microfinance services to customers in a manner that would empower it to serve even more clients with better services, while preserving the essence of its mission and humanitarian character. Driving this exploration is the understanding that more could be achieved for the social and economic benefit of communities served by the programme. It was in Gaza that the department began its work in 1991, and as it looks to celebrate the 20th anniversary of its establishment in 2011, I hope that we will also be able to mark the start of a new era of innovative microfinance in the UNRWA’s areas of operation.

    Filippo Grandi

    Commissioner-General United Nations Relief and Works Agency

    for Palestine Refugees in the Near East

  • 4

    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 advocates for the provision of 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 almost five million. The department conceives of its mission in the context of the United Nation’s broader vision of building inclusive financial services for poor and low-income households. Many of our clients operate small businesses on the margins of the formal economy. They include vegetable stallholders, at-home seamstresses, garage owners and fishermen. Many run businesses that are not registered with the government, let alone tax authorities. The vast majority are unable to secure affordable 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 department’s work is to help close this circle of opportunity and help households become self-reliant.

    Targeting business owners, microentrepreneurs and households, our lending is guided in part by economic objectives: to sustain and create jobs, reduce poverty and boost economic security. However, our aim is also to support human development more broadly, by sustaining household consumption and family investments in education and health. Ultimately, we seek to empower our clients, and in this respect


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