Egypt’s biggest lender, the state-owned National Bank of Egypt says it has pumped 12 billion Egyptian pounds ($675 million) for 13,000 small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) customers.
The finances were at interest rates from five to seven percent, NBE deputy chairman Yehia Aboul Fotouh told Amwal Al Ghad on Sunday.
The bank’s financing for the small and medium-sized businesses has reached 32 billion pounds, Aboul Fotouh said, referring to plans to increase it between 70 billion and 80 billion pounds in the coming three years.
SMEs are crucial drivers of economic activity in Egypt, however their role in the economic development of the country is limited despite the government’s increasing attention towards them.
In January 2016, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi announced the SME initiative, saying that Egypt’s banks would inject 200 billion Egyptian pounds into supporting businesses over the next four years. Accordingly, the country’s central bank issued guidelines on how it will incentivise banks to participate in a “comprehensive programme” to help finance SMEs in a bid to create jobs and support its battered economy.