World Bank announces $200 mln project to support Egypt youth, women

The World Bank on Wednesday announced a new $200 million investment project to support the next generation of reforms in Egypt aimed at creating more opportunities for young people and women.

The project will focus on expanding the amount and access to credit for small and medium-sized enterprises, which have proven to be a major source of growth and job creation in Egypt, the World Bank said in a statement.

Dubbed as ‘Catalyzing Entrepreneurship for Job Creation’, the project is designed to address the major obstacles that young people and women face in Egypt when launching new businesses.

The project will channel $145 million mainly through non-bank financial institutions offering loans to small businesses. This project component will have established lending targets for women and youth-led businesses, first-time borrowers, and small business in less developed regions across Egypt.

It will also fund coaching opportunities for new businesses through the entrepreneurial lifecycle to build the necessary skills and capacity for success

“This is an investment that offers many opportunities to improve the livelihoods of Egyptians through job creation and contributing a solid foundation for the country’s economy.” said Sahar Nasr, Egypt’s Minister of Investment and International Cooperation and Egypt’s Representative on the World Bank’s Board of Governors.

“Entrepreneurs – and especially women- are a cornerstone for strong and stable economies.’’ Nasr added.

The project also aims to increase the supply of seed, early-stage, and venture capital going to riskier and innovative start-ups and young small and medium-sized enterprises with high potential for growth and job creation.

“To build up the early-stage investment ecosystem in Egypt, the project will invest $50 million in privately managed risk capital intermediaries, such as angel funds, accelerators, VC funds, and investment companies.” The World Bank statement read.

A call for proposals will be issued, with international players encouraged to apply, and the funds distributed through a transparent and competitive selection process. “The aim is to leverage the technical capacity and know-how of the private sector in investing these funds.” it added.

“Egypt has shown strong commitment to reforming its economy.” said Marina Wes, World Bank’s Country Director for Egypt, Yemen, and Djibouti.

“We are proud to be supporting Egypt’s entrepreneurs across the country, especially the women and young people who remain Egypt’s valuable yet most untapped potential.’’ Wes added.

The new programme builds on the success of the ongoing ‘’Promoting Innovation for Inclusive Financial Access’’ project which provides SMEs with access to finance and promotes private sector job creation across Egypt. To date, this project has created about 300,000 jobs, benefitting approximately 70,000 women and 56,000 youths.

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