EBRD backs youth entrepreneurship, skills development in Egypt

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) said on Thursday it had launched a $120 million Youth in Business programme and a pilot US$ 20 million Skills in Business credit facility in Egypt.

The launch took place during a virtual event held in partnership with the National Bank of Egypt (NBE).

The facilities will address key challenges that Egypt faces; the economy suffers from high levels of youth unemployment and increasing emigration as well as structural barriers to accessing key resources for business growth, EBRD statement read.

EBRD’s Youth in Business programme is set to offer young entrepreneurs’ access to critically needed financing and technical assistance to grow their small businesses.

The financing provided to NBE is part of a wider $120 million Youth in Business financing package for Egypt, which the EBRD will also offer to other banks and microfinance institutions for on-lending to micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) run by young entrepreneurs, the bank added.

EBRD further explained that the offer will be complemented by technical assistance to partner banks to strengthen their lending capacity. In addition, young business owners and managers will have access to advice in order to increase their productivity and scale up their enterprises.

NBE is the first bank to join the EBRD programme and a leading partner in its launch.

For the $20 million Skills in Business credit facility launched in partnership with NBE, it aims to tackle the skills shortages and high employee turnover that hinder growth. Eligible small businesses that receive financing will also benefit from advisory support to recruit, train and retain staff and attract talent, the European bank noted.

“The Skills in Business advisory component is also available via the EBRD’s Direct Financing Framework and Risk-Sharing Facility across the southern and eastern Mediterranean (SEMED) region, supported by funding from the Small Business Impact Fund (Donors to the EBRD’s Small Business Impact Fund include Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Norway, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, the TaiwanBusiness-EBRD Technical Cooperation Fund and the United States of America), and Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs.” EBRD statement read.

Heike Harmgart, EBRD’s managing director for SEMED region

Heike Harmgart, EBRD’s managing director for SEMED region, said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the challenges young people face when entering the labour market or accessing the financing and the skilled employees they need for their businesses.

“Limited capital and gaps in know-how are among the biggest barriers standing in the way of young entrepreneurs’ success. Placing youth at the centre of our priorities for the recovery is a significant step towards dismantling those barriers and building back a stronger, fairer economy that works for all.”

Meanwhile, Hisham Okasha, NBE chairman, said: “We are proud to partner with the EBRD and are determined to work towards building an inclusive economy that empowers youth and invests in young talent.

National Bank of Egypt's chairman Hisham Okasha
National Bank of Egypt’s chairman Hisham Okasha

“Inclusion and sustainability are key pillars of NBE strategy and are perfectly aligned with the objectives of both Youth in Business and Skills in Business.”

Egypt is a founding member of the EBRD. Since the start of the EBRD’s operations in Egypt in 2012, the bank has invested more than €7.3 billion in 130 projects in the country.

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