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The Ministry of International Cooperation Hosts a Multi-Stakeholder Platform to Discuss the Microfinance Ecosystem

The event includes the Central Bank of Egypt, the Financial Regulatory Authority & the Egyptian Microfinance Federation.

Minister of International Cooperation H.E. Dr. Rania A. Al-Mashat held a Multi-Stakeholder Platform (MSP) on microfinance titled “MSMEs: The Power of Small”. The event presented the latest developments in enhancing the microfinance business environment in Egypt through the Egyptian Microfinance Federation program for Institutional Rehabilitation. This includes various categories of associations and institutions operating in the sector, in accordance with the Financial Regulatory Authority (FRA), the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE), and The Egyptian Credit Bureau, I-Score. The MSP included the participation of Chairperson of the Egyptian Microfinance Federation (EMFF), Mona Zulficar; Sub Governor of the CBE, May Abulnaga; Deputy Chairman of the FRA, Islam Azzam; and Chairman of I-Score, Mohamed Kafafy. This is alongside development partners; including the United Nations and the World Bank. H.E. Al-Mashat stressed that small enterprises play an inherent role in the Egyptian economy to achieve development by creating job opportunities and promoting a culture of self-employment. In 2020, the Ministry of International Cooperation, via multilateral and bilateral cooperation, has secured development financing worth $3.2 billion, through direct financing to private sector companies as well as credit lines to commercial banks for the financing of SMEs. In light of its paramount importance, more work needs to be done in this sector as SMEs represent about 99% of the total private sector projects in Egypt and it employs about 75% of the total workforce, as per the UNDP. The Minister explained that through MSPs, new horizons of cooperation between government entities, private sector, and multilateral and bilateral development partners arise across various fields. Such meetings open the door to discuss available opportunities, setting priorities and overcoming challenges in a way that enhances the Government of Egypt’s vision, and is in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). “In light of the Government of Egypt’s endeavor to move forward with reforms, push development efforts in various fields, and initiate structural reform programs, Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs) are an essential element to achieve sustainable development,” said Al-Mashat. During the MSP, the EMFF reviewed the most prominent developments in the microfinance industry and its developments since the 1990s up until today, explaining how it occupies a large position in the local market due to initiatives and measures carried out by the state through the CBE and the FRA. They also looked into the pillars of the institutional qualification program and its aim to obtain support from development partners in order to initiate programs that can support microfinance institutions develop, become more attractive to investors, and utilize technology. Sub-Governor of the CBE, May Abulnaga expressed that the initiatives launched by the CBE have contributed to an unprecedented boom in the microfinance ecosystem. This raised the microfinance portfolio to about EGP 47 billion in December 2020 directed to 4 million customers, compared to the EGP 6.4 billion in December 2016 directed to 2 million customers; of which EGP 27.8 billion are direct and indirect financing from banks. AbulNaga added that the CBE is aware of the importance of the microfinance ecosystem and its role in creating jobs, and in reducing poverty and inequality. AboulNaga added that the CBE is working alongside the FRA and the EMFF to address the challenges facing the microfinance sector through various initiatives and by promoting financial inclusion, as the CBE puts MSMEs at the forefront of its priorities. AbulNaga also reviewed the initiatives launched by the CBE over the past years to encourage the microfinance sector. The initiatives included allocating 25% of the credit bank portfolios to finance MSMEs, in addition to an initiative aimed at increasing the efficiency and capabilities of microfinance entities in “Category C”. This initiative has managed to train 1,128 employees across 11 governorates and enhanced the capabilities of 41 institutions operating in the sector. Chairperson of the EMFF, Mona Zulficar said that the microfinance law issued in 2014 represents a one of a kind leap forward in developing and revitalizing this sector, and in supporting low-income families. In 2016, the EMFF announced that it aims to reach 10 million low-income families. Zulficar added that banks have contributed to increasing the available funds for the microfinance sector to raise the sector’s efficiency and to enhance its accessibility so that it reaches all parts of Egypt. In addition to applauding the role of the Ministry of International Cooperation in hosting an MSP that brings together all relevant entities. Deputy Chairman of the FRA, Islam Azzam stressed the importance of brining all stakeholders together to cooperate and help push the microfinance sector forward, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic and in light of the challenges it caused. He explained that the FRA seeks to provide full support for microfinance projects by focusing on digitization, digital inclusion, and in supporting companies to create more job opportunities, and empower women and entrepreneurs. Chairman of I-Score, Mohamed Kafafy said that the company, under the supervision of the CBE and the FRA, seeks to build the capabilities of institutions operating in the microfinance sector. He explained that the company offers services to microfinance institutions such as, access to finance, simplified lending process, reduced default rates through creditworthiness and data systems, and accelerated loan disbursement in a way that helps create jobs and reduce unemployment rates. Kafafy also mentioned that the company's database includes about 20 million clients, including 422,000 clients for MSMEs, and financing facilities that amount to over EGP 350 billion. UN Resident Coordinator in Egypt, Ms. Elena Panova shared that MSMEs provide between 60 to 70% of job opportunities in the economy, noting that the discussions posed by the MSP reveal the huge market potential