May 13, 2007 / 25 Iyar 5767
“Without the Jerusalem Loan Fund from the UJA Federation of New York and the Jewish Agency I don’t think I could have built my business. I would have had to beg from the banks and the higher interest would have been a nightmare to repay. I don’t know if I would have survived those first critical months that any enterprise goes through.”
Yelena Bar Hen is already turning a profit. In August the 36 year-old mother of four acquired the Remax real estate franchise for northwest Jerusalem and specializing in residential properties, she has already hired eight agents and has closed some big property deals. She calls her business Remax Genesis to reflect her love of the Torah and Phil Collins, in that order.
To buy the franchise Bar Hen took a NIS 120,000 business loan from the Jerusalem Loan Fund, which was founded by the UJA Federation of New York. With additional support from the Jewish Agency, the Fund seeks to strengthen the city’s economy through assistance in opening new businesses and expanding existing ones.
“For the past four years I have been working as a real estate agent,” explains Bar Hen. “But I had to hand over a percentage of all my deals to my boss. My ambition has always been to have my own agency. Then the opportunity came up to buy into the Remax franchise, one of Israel’s largest real estate agencies. With the Jerusalem real estate market really humming it was an opportunity I couldn’t afford to miss.”
Jerusalem has always been Bar Hen’s home since immigrating to Israel from France in 1985 when she was 15 through the Jewish Agency’s Youth Aliyah program. She subsequently graduated from the Hebrew University.
Bar Hen’s husband Rafi has also joined the business as administrative manager and her ambition is to have 60 agents working for her.
“It hurts me when I see people leaving Jerusalem due to lack of economic opportunities,” she observes. “The Jerusalem Loan Fund provides a solution for many budding Jerusalemite entrepreneurs.”