EBRD donors meet local beneficiaries in Jordan

By Volker Ahlemeyer

A worker at RZ food packaging producer, Jordan - EBRD donors

A worker at RZ food packaging producer, one of the local beneficiaries.

Ahead of the 2018 Annual Meeting and Business Forum in Jordan, EBRD donors visited several local beneficiaries to see for themselves how their funding makes a difference to people’s everyday lives.

Jordan has witnessed a large influx of Syrian refugees in recent years, many of whom have found shelter in the capital Amman. This unexpected population growth has put unprecedented pressure on the city’s municipal infrastructure and services, including its waste management.

The Al Ghabawi landfill presents a good example of how the EBRD and its donors help the the country tackle this challenge in an innovative way: a new plant at the site will convert waste into additional energy for its residents.

Furthermore, a new cell and extra equipment, including 75 new refuse collection vehicles, help the city cope with the increase in waste.

The donor delegation learned directly on site about how an EBRD loan of €65 million enabled the city to make these necessary investments and the vital role that additional donor funding played from the European Union, Southern and Eastern Mediterranean (SEMED) Multi-Donor Account* , TaiwanICDF and the United Kingdom.

The city now serves more than triple the amount of people that it used to. It was important to find new solutions on top of the landfill expansion, such as the new waste-to-energy plant, explained Omar S. El-Louzi, City Manager at Greater Amman Municipality.

“A landfill cell used to last for about five to six years, then it became two and three. We also need to think of the environment – and with such an innovative project, we can do this,” he said.

Apart from such innovative municipal improvements, the Bank’s projects also support Jordan in its efforts to build an inclusive, sustainable economy.

The development of the Abdali Mall in Amman’s city centre, the largest brownfield project in the southern and eastern Mediterranean region, provides a vivid example on how to do this.

Supported by Korea, the United Kingdom and donors to the SEMED Multi-Donor Account, the shopping centre now features a new retail and entertainment area, as well as Jordan’s first district cooling and heating plant.

It also includes a new training centre, which helps young people and women – Jordanians and refugees alike – to gain the necessary skills to find jobs in the retail and hospitality sector.
So far, more than 350 people have already benefitted from a 40-day intense programme. The training activities are driven by demand from local employers and the first results already show that they have helped the vast majority of participants to find employment.

Investments are only part of the puzzle of how to boost economic development. The Bank also helps entrepreneurs in Jordan to become more competitive by equipping them with the know-how they need to grow their business.

Such advisory services are supported by funds by the European Union and the SEMED Multi-Donor Account in Jordan.

Rami J. Saheb started Al-Hadaf, a company specialising in food packaging, disposables and catering supplies, as a one-man business.

It expanded over the years to become a leader in this sector with more than 130 employees, it sells over 1,300 products to its clients (hotels, restaurants and supermarket chains) and is now planning to seize new opportunities in key export markets.

To attract business, Al-Hadaf needed to establish an e-commerce portal for online orders – and the EBRD’s Advice for Small Businesses matched the company with the right expert to help.

Mr Sahed highlighted the need to minimise harm on the environment, so his company started to produce biodegradable packaging, made out of sugar cane.

“These are the future and they are not much more expensive than the others, maybe 10 or 15 per cent,” he said.

The final stop for our donors was cosmetic and para-pharmaceutical producer Juman. Rasha Al-Eid started her company from a small room, which expanded over time to an 500 m2 facility.

To meet her ambitions to export, the EBRD helped her business to obtain an ISO 9000 certification, develop quality management systems and a corporate identity and website to sell under its own brand.

Her line of organic cosmetics from the Dead Sea is now sold on the European market. “The advice we received was, of course, very important. But working with the EBRD taught me much more – it was a whole new mindset that they created on how to grow my business,” she said.

Her success allowed Ms Al-Eid to create additional jobs. By now, her company employs 11 people and produces over 150 private-label products, which are exported to Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Algeria, Kuwait, Germany, Bulgaria and other countries.

“Today, we braved the hail storm to look at how EU funds are supporting state of the art waste management and biogas utilisation at the Amman landfill,” said Anna Krzyzanowska, Head of Unit at the DG ECFIN, European Commission, in a reference to yesterday’s stormy weather.

“We listened to passionate entrepreneurs who have grown their companies and are now taking them to international markets.”

“The UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) is working with the EBRD to support Jordan, and to support the many Syrian refugees who have sought safety here,” explained Donald Menzies, Economic Adviser, DFID. “It is great to see progress on the ground today, and hear some inspiring success stories.”

*The EBRD SEMED Multi-Donor Account is supported by Australia, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Taipei China and the United Kingdom.