Saudi Arabia grants $200 million for Egyptian youth-led SME projects

Egypt has signed Sunday a US$200 million grant from Saudi Arabia to finance small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

The grant is with a five percent interest rate.

Egypt will send the first tranche of the Saudi grant, amounting to 250 million Egyptian pounds (US$32 million) to finance small and micro projects led by youth in Sinai, in form of soft loans, said Minister of International Cooperation, Sahar Nasr.

In a press conference following the Egyptian-Saudi coordination council’s fourth meeting in Cairo on Sunday, minister Nasr said the Saudi grant are fully designated for financing youth-led projects in the Upper Egypt region as well as others governorates across the country.

Earlier this month, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi announced a number of plans to empower Egypt’s youth.

He promised 2016 would be the “year of Egyptian youth,” in which they would be engaged in a number of projects. Accordingly, he tasked the central bank to enable the financing of small and medium youth-run initiatives. He promised that by the end of the next four years, 20 percent of bank loans would be allocated to such projects.

“Banks will offer around 200 billion pounds, which should [launch] 350 thousand companies that will offer job opportunities to more than four million people,” Sisi said, promising to reduce interest rates to less than 5 percent on all loans given to youth initiatives, as he explained high rates have prevented many young people from starting their own businesses in the past. Projects in Upper Egypt and the border governorates will be given extra attention, Sisi asserted.