An FJC donor has provided a 0%-interest philanthropic loan to help kick-start a $10 million initiative to help newly arrived Afghans rebuild their lives in the United States. The loan program is a component of Support for Afghan Financial Empowerment (SAFE), an initiative launched by the International Rescue Committee (IRC) and their Center for Economic Opportunity (CEO) to empower Afghan families as they begin their journey to financial stability and economic security in their new homes across the U.S.
More than 70,000 Afghans have arrived through Operations Allies Welcome, a federal effort to support vulnerable Afghans, including those who worked alongside us in Afghanistan for the past two decades, as they safely resettle in the United States. These families have had to endure a challenging, emergency resettlement experience in the midst of a pandemic and an economy still reeling from COVID-19 impacts.
“Unlike newcomers with refugee status, Afghans are humanitarian parolees, meaning they have official permission to enter and remain temporarily in the United States,” explains Kasra Movahedi, the Executive Director of IRC’s Center for Economic Opportunity. “This status poses unique challenges for building credit, making it harder for them to apply for rental housing, finance a car, and in some cases may limit access to certain jobs.”
SAFE fills this gap by providing small, 0%-interest credit-building auto, education, immigration and personal loans, coupled with financial education and counselling. IRC has trained a team of financial coaches, native to Afghanistan, to offer these services to any Afghan who arrived through Operations Allies Welcome.
The 0%-interest immigration loans will help reunify families separated by the chaotic military withdrawal. Immigration services are costly, and time is of the essence. Few Afghans have the funds necessary to pay for immigration services, and access to a 0%-interest, no fee immigration loan can be the difference between life and death for separated family members.
FJC has a long history of making loans to the nonprofit sector. The majority of FJC’s loans are made from the organization’s Agency Loan Fund, a pool of donor capital that is actively managed by FJC staff and is invested in loans to nonprofits earning a floating interest rate of the prime rate plus 3 percent (currently 6.5%). Donors may also recommend below-market rate loans (also known as program-related investments) using funds in their donor advised fund accounts, on customized terms of their choosing.
“We are honored to use FJC’s boutique philanthropic platform to galvanize support for Afghan humanitarian parolees at this historic moment,” said the donor, who wishes to remain anonymous. “Having resources set aside in our FJC account enabled us to provide CEO exactly the 0%-interest capital source they needed to launch this critical economic empowerment initiative.”