EBRD supports small businesses in Egypt

By Nibal Zgheib

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is supporting the development of small businesses in Egypt with a US$ 50 million credit line to the National Bank of Egypt (NBE). The funds will be on-lent to Egyptian small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

The US$ 50 million SME credit line to NBE, which was signed today in Cairo by NBE Chairman, Hisham Okasha, and the EBRD’s Managing Director for the southern and eastern Mediterranean (SEMED) region, Hildegard Gacek, is part of a US$ 100 million finance package with NBE. The package comprises the US$ 50 million SME credit line, and a US$ 50 million trade finance line in support of international trade, which is expected to be signed soon. Today’s signing marks the EBRD’s first investment in the Egyptian financial sector.

The EBRD’s SME credit line will help NBE to further expand its SME lending and will contribute to an increased access to finance for privately owned SMEs in Egypt.

Hildegard Gacek said: “Strengthening the SME sector in Egypt is one of our main priorities in the country and the EBRD is pleased to be partnering with NBE to help us deliver on this key operational priority. The SME sector is expected to provide strong impetus to economic development and to provide much-needed job opportunities.

Hisham Okasha said: “As the country’s leading bank, the National Bank of Egypt has capitalised on its growing strong relationship with the EBRD, resulting in a US$ 50 million loan agreement, which aims to secure long-term financing to Egypt’s SME sector. This reflects NBE’s keen interest in playing a key role in the economic development of the country.”

The technical cooperation between NBE and the EBRD will assist in the expansion of the Bank’s SME lending, enabling the transfer of international best practices, knowledge and skills.

The National Bank of Egypt was founded in 1898, and is the oldest and largest commercial bank in the country. NBE is market leader in terms of total assets, with a 24 per cent market share. The bank has the largest branch network in Egypt, with 335 branches and outlets distributed throughout the country, and 1,520 automatic teller machines (ATMs).

In 2013 the EBRD has invested US$160 million in four projects in Egypt, in various sectors, and the Bank has initiated technical assistance support programmes to approximately 73 Egyptian SMEs.