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The government-backed funds for small and medium-sized businesses as well as exporters granted a total of NIS 1 billion in loans in 2009, not including December, the Finance Ministry said.

These 1,000 companies employ 33,000 workers.

The fund for small businesses, run by banks Otsar Ha-Hayal, Beinleumi and Mercantile Discount, granted a total of NIS 241 million in loans - 200% more than it did in 2008. These loans went to 786 companies, which employ a total of 12,000 people.

The Finance Ministry launched the NIS 1.3 billion fund for medium-sized businesses in February, through banks Mercantile Discount, Otsar Ha-Hayal, and Hapoalim, in response to the credit crisis. The fund has so far loaned out NIS 638 million to 262 companies that employ 20,000 workers.

The fund for exporters granted a total of NIS 43 million to 38 companies employing 1,425 workers.