The World Bank last week announced a $200 million ‘investment project’ to support SMEs in Egypt with the aim of creating more opportunities for young people and women. The project called Catalyzing Entrepreneurship for Job Creation according to Enterprise is a loan that was secured earlier this month.
According to a statement by the World Bank, the project will channel $145 million mainly through non-bank financial institutions to offer loans to small businesses with established lending target for women and youth-led businesses, first-time borrowers, and small businesses in less developed regions across Egypt. The project will also fund coaching opportunities for new businesses through the entrepreneurial lifecycle to build the necessary skills and capacity for success, the statement added.
Interestingly, almost one-fourth or $50 million of the money will go to VC funds, accelerators, angel groups, and investment companies, with the aim to build up early-stage investment ecosystem in Egypt.
“The project also aims to increase the supply of seed, early-stage, and venture capital going to riskier and innovative start-ups and young small and medium enterprises with high potential for growth and job creation,” noted the statement.
Apparently, international investors will also be eligible to apply for receiving the funds to invest them in Egyptian startups.
“A call for proposals will be issued, with international players encouraged to apply, and the funds distributed through a transparent and competitive selection process. The aim is to leverage the technical capacity and know-how of the private sector in investing these funds,” said the statement.
Dr. Sahar Nasr, Egypt’s Minister of Investment and International Cooperation and Egypt’s Representative on the World Bank’s Board of Governors, commented, “Entrepreneurs – and especially women- are a cornerstone for strong and stable economies. Our partnership with the Word Bank Group aims to empower Egyptian women and youth to become successful entrepreneurs. This is an investment that offers many opportunities to improve the livelihoods of Egyptians through job creation and contributing a solid foundation for the country’s economy.’”
Marina Wes, World Bank Country Director for Egypt, Yemen and Djibouti, added, “Egypt has shown strong commitment to reforming its economy. While the reforms are beginning to bear fruit, enabling the private sector to create jobs is integral for achieving sustainable and inclusive growth. We are proud to be supporting Egypt’s entrepreneurs across the country, especially the women and young people who remain Egypt’s valuable yet most untapped potential.”