World Bank fund to support Egyptian SMEs, accelerators

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The World Bank has announced a new US$200 million investment project focused on expanding access to capital for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in a bid to spur growth and job creation.

The Catalysing Entrepreneurship for Job Creation project is designed to address the major obstacles that young people and women face when launching new businesses, and support the next generation of reforms in Egypt.

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

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

“Entrepreneurs – and especially women – are a cornerstone for strong and stable economies,” said Dr Sahar Nasr, Egypt’s minister of investment and international cooperation and the country’s representative on the World Bank’s Board of Governors.

“Our partnership with the Word Bank Group aims to empower Egyptian women and youth to become successful entrepreneurs. 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.”

The project also aims to increase the supply of seed, early-stage, and venture capital going to innovative, bu riskier, startups and young SMEs with high potential for growth and job creation. To build up the early-stage investment ecosystem in Egypt, the project will invest US$50 million in privately managed risk capital intermediaries, such as angel funds, accelerators, VC funds, and investment companies.

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.

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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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