Egypt banks hiked SMEs loans to $9 bln since 2016: El-Etreby

Banks in Egypt have extended more loans to small and medium-sized firms in the first half of the year, heeding the central bank’s SME initiative launched in 2016, top banking official said on Monday.

By mid-2019, the amount of loans to small and medium-sized enterprises at banks in Egypt rose to around 146 billion Egyptian pounds ($9 billion) since 2016, said Banque Misr chairman Mohamed El-Etreby.

“We hope the amount would reach 200 billion pounds at the end of this year,” El-Etreby said at a workshop organised by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Arab Monetary Fund (AMF) in Cairo on Monday.

Boosting SME lending has been a top priority for Egypt’s government and central bank given the crucial role these industries play in creating jobs, promoting financial inclusion, and reducing poverty, he added.

In 2016, the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) launched an initiative to encourage SME financing, saying that banks were required to allocate 20 percent of their total credit portfolios to financing projects until 2020.

The banks were to offer around 200 billion pounds to finance 350,000 companies and thus create job opportunities for more than four million people.

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