2015 SME Regional Conference kicks off Today in Egypt

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Egyptian Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab and Central Bank Governor Hisham Ramez have inaugurated today the 2015 Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) Business Development Conference on the “Role of Regulators in Promoting SME Financing in the Arab countries.

The Arab Monetary Fund, in cooperation with the World Bank Group, and the Central Bank of Egypt are organizing the 2015 Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) Business Development Conference on the “Role of Regulators in Promoting SME Financing in the Arab countries”, to be held at Fairmont Nile City Hotel, Cairo – Egypt on January 14-15, 2015.

The opening remarks will be delivered by Ibrahim Mahlab, Prime Minister of Egypt, Hisham Ramez, Governor of the Central Bank of Egypt, Abdulrahman A. Al Hamidy, Director General Chairman of the Board of the Arab Monetary Fund, as well as Mouayed Makhlouf, Director MENA, IFC, on behalf of the World Bank Group. Following the opening remarks, a keynote speech will be given by Hany Kadry Dimian, Minister of Finance of Egypt, while opening key note remarks for the second day will be given by Sherif Samy Chairman of the Egyptian Financial Supervisory Authority.

This 2-day conference will focus on how regulatory authorities in the region, and more particularly central banks, could support and nurture the growth of SMEs, lead the implementation of national policies and strategies, and set-up the enabling environment that would facilitate access to banking services and finance for SMEs in the region. The conference will also discuss the financial regulatory framework that could promote SME business by getting financial institutions to target the sector from a business perspective. The increasing role played by the guarantee fund schemes in the region, in addition to the most recent innovative financing and risk management products and tools for SMEs will also be discussed.

An important and essential topic will be the assistance provided by regional and international financial institutions in supporting the efforts of both the authorities and the financial institutions in the region in promoting SME business, and the potential areas of development towards ensuring a meaningful contribution of SMEs in GDP growth and in economic development and job creation in the coming years.

The conference will be attended by Ministers, Central Banks Governors and Vice-Governors, Chairmen and CEOs of regional and local funds and financial institutions operating in the SME business.

In addition, more than 300 senior representatives from central banks, ministries of finance, and banking institutions focusing on SME business in the region, in addition to representatives from banking associations, chambers of commerce and industry, organizations in charge of SMEs development, regional guarantee funds, as well as experts from regional and international financial institutions.

In this occasion, Hisham Ramez, Governor of the Central Bank of Egypt, highlighted the importance of maximizing the benefit out of this conference confirming the focal role of the Central Bank in the development of the banking sector by improving access to finance and banking services to small and medium enterprises, as means of achieving financial inclusion. This in turn, contributes to the support of economic growth and enhances financial stability through the provision of financial services to the largest number of new customers, as well as achieving geographical expansion, and boosting growth in credit and investment portfolios of banks. He also pointed out the importance of the topic in providing job opportunities for young people and reducing unemployment.

In parallel, Abdulrahman A. Al Hamidy, Director General and Chairman of the Board of the Arab Monetary Fund, in his welcome address thanked the Central Bank of Egypt for its efforts in jointly organizing the event, and stressed the great importance of the conference’s themes to shed light on the role that could be played by regulatory authorities, more particularly central banks, in contributing to the establishment of the enabling framework to enhance access of small and medium enterprises to the appropriate financial services that would help the enterprises to grow and expand. In this regard, he indicated that he is looking forward to the outcome of the discussions, which would provide ideas and actions to help developing programs and initiatives that support regulatory authorities in their endeavors.

Mouayed Makhlouf, IFC Director for the Middle East and North Africa, in his welcome address said “Small businesses hold great promise and have the potential to create jobs and drive economic growth across the region”. He also added that “Supporting the growth of small businesses is a priority for the World Bank Group. To help them thrive, the WB works with governments and banks to create a regulatory environment that provides smaller businesses with better access to finance, enabling expansion.”

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