for the future of work.
The role of renewed, inclusive multilateralism is key to move ahead in unity to harness the potential of the private sector and civil Society and direct them towards achieving national goals. In this case, it is connecting Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) ambitions with support to Egypt’s private sector, where there is a greater focus on enablement rather than just delivery. It aims to cultivate the right conditions to unleash the domestic workforce through an adequate legal and regulatory framework, effective infrastructure and services, and reliable and clean energy supplies.
The role of the private sector does not just generate wealth or create jobs, but can also ensure social inclusion, food security, environmental conservation, and most importantly, reduce poverty. To adequately respond to the challenges SMEs face, we start by putting people at the core: pushing employers and employees towards realizing their full potential. Through our human-centered agenda, we acknowledge that the SMEs sector also includes informal workers and women entrepreneurs that demand further support. In line with that, we dedicate our resources to achieve partnerships with purpose as key drivers to generate sustained and inclusive growth.
In 2020, the Ministry of International Cooperation secured a total development financing worth $457 million to MSMEs through the OPEC Fund for International Development, the Arab Fund for Economic & Social Development (AFESD), World Bank, African Development Bank (AfDB) and Germany. To encourage SDG-focused tech inclusion and scale up impact, there are currently 34 projects in innovation, digitalization and entrepreneurship with a total development financing of $1.014 billion.
With a value of $95 million from the OPEC Fund for International Development, the project “Supporting SMEs” aims to improve economic and social conditions for vulnerable families through financing SMEs. This provides easier loans to marginalized groups that include women, low-income women workers, small farmers, fishermen and small entrepreneurship projects.
In the bilateral cooperation sphere, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has awarded a grant amounting to 750 million Saudi riyals, equivalent to 200 million US dollars dedicated to support micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) as a part of its contribution to Egypt’s Sustainable Development Program. The agreement was signed in 2011 and is still in effect, it aims to finance MSMEs through creating job opportunities and expanding the social safety nets through securing soft loans provided by financial intermediaries to bridge the gap between financial institutions and MSMEs and facilitate their access to finance.
To strengthen the resilience of SMEs, together with the Saudi Grant Management Committee, a grant was provided to the Bank of Alexandria, to support the digitalization of SMEs and local Egyptian artisans and craftsmen. There will be 1,475 beneficiaries, 30% for women-owned enterprises and 45% for enterprises owned by people under the age of 35. The grant aims to revive local artisanship and reinvigorate the new artisan economy, which has become increasingly important in the face of increased global demand for high quality artisanal products produced in a sustainable way.
Through the Star Venture programme, SMEs are supported and encouraged to embrace innovation, entrepreneurship and business development. One of the success stories of the accelerator program is Youspital, which is a booking platform for discounted healthcare that targets underserved or uninsured citizens. It recently launched a free hotline to provide medical consultations on Covid-19, as well as home visits for laboratory tests.
Women entrepreneurs represent a potential key ingredient for Egypt's growth, and fuel social and economic development. To provide a better business environment for women, projects such as ‘Supporting and Financing Micro Sized Projects’, which is supported by the Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development (KFED), directs USD 200M to improve access to finance in remote and disadvantaged areas, targeting 100,000 projects and creating more than 120,000 job opportunities.
Harnessing the power of young entrepreneurs, Flat6labs is a successful model for cooperation with the USAID to foster youth employment in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. Flat6Labs achieves this mission by offering a wide range of services including mentoring, training, and financing, and has grown to be the leading business accelerator in Egypt, supporting 106 businesses and creating 7,450 jobs, of which 6,293 for women.
With agriculture as a central pillar, the Saudi Grant Management Committee is financing five projects in Egypt with a total fund of EGP 200 million ($12.375 million). Three of the projects are for the Agriculture Bank of Egypt (ABE), which aims to promote food security and support farmers in Upper Egypt through their small and micro-sized projects; doubling their agricultural productivity and their incomes, and ensuring sustainable food production systems through implementing resilient agricultural practices that increase productivity and production.
The projects promote development-oriented policies that support decent job creation, entrepreneurship, and the formalization of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, achieve the following targets of the SDGs:
By 2030, eradicate extreme poverty for all people everywhere, currently measured as people living on less than $1.25 a day.
By 2030, ensure that all men and women, in particular the poor and the vulnerable, have equal rights to economic resources, as well as access to basic services, ownership and control over land and other forms of property, inheritance, natural resources, appropriate new technology and financial services, including microfinance.
Promote development-oriented policies that support productive activities, decent job creation, entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation, and encourage the formalization and growth of micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises, including through access to financial services.
By 2030, achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all women and men, including for young people and persons with disabilities, and equal pay for work of equal value.
Protect labour rights and promote safe and secure working environments for all workers.
Enhance the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development, complemented by multi-stakeholder partnerships that mobilize and share knowledge, expertise, technology and financial resources, to support the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals in all countries, in particular developing countries.