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EBRD boosts small business and trade in West Bank and Gaza

By Nibal Zgheib

Strengthening small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and promoting international trade in West Bank and Gaza, the EBRD is providing an SME credit line of US$ 5 million to The National Bank (TNB).

PMA Governor, Azzam Shawwa, and TNB Chairman, Talal Nasereddin, EBRD Director for the Eastern Mediterranean region, Heike Harmgart and the General Manager of TNB, Ahmad Hajhasan at the signing. 



  • US$ 5 million SME credit line and US$ 1 million trade facility to The National Bank (TNB)
  • Capacity building for SME lending and international trade facilitation to TNB in the West Bank and Gaza
  • New EBRD investment to strengthen banking and private sectors

Strengthening small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and promoting international trade in West Bank and Gaza, the EBRD is providing an SME credit line of US$ 5 million to The National Bank (TNB), in addition to a US$ 1 million trade facility under the EBRD’s Trade Facilitation Programme (TFP).

The ceremony took place at the Palestine Monetary Authority (PMA) in Ramallah in the presence of the PMA Governor, Azzam Shawwa, and  TNB Chairman, Talal Nasereddin. The agreement was signed by EBRD Director for the Eastern Mediterranean region, Heike Harmgart and the General Manager of TNB, Ahmad Hajhasan.

The private sector represents a substantial segment of the local economy.  This new EBRD investment is the third in the West Bank and Gaza and will contribute to the creation of more jobs as well as the development of the private sector.

PMA Governor Azzam Shawwa praised the signing of the agreement noting its importance for the needs of the local economy and supporting the SME sector, which represents more than 95 per cent of the Palestinian economy. “The agreement will help achieve sustainability in this sector, create more job opportunities, accelerate the development process, and enhance financial inclusion in Palestine,” he said.

"By creating a US$1 million trade facility, the agreement will help open new markets for national projects, contributing to the activation of the Palestinian economy. We thank EBRD for its initiatives to increase its investments in Palestine and its continuous efforts to support the banking sector and the Palestinian economy in general," he added.

Talal Nasereddin, TNB Chairman, also expressed his enthusiasm about this joint agreement with the EBRD as it will increase the lending portfolio for SMEs which represents 95 per cent of the Palestinian economy. This emphasises that SMEs are one of the most important cornerstones on which the Palestinian economy relies. Mr Nasereddin said that this collaboration will support economic growth of the national economy and the creation of new job opportunities as well as contribute to enhancing financial inclusion and allowing for more entrepreneurial projects to be developed.

Heike Harmgart said: “We are very pleased to be launching our third investment in the West Bank and Gaza and our second supporting the Palestinian banking sector. This investment with TNB is crucial in increasing access to finance for SMEs in all economic sectors as well as supporting trade finance activities for local companies.”

Under the trade facility, TNB will become an issuing bank and receive the EBRD’s trade finance guarantees to support the import and export activities of local companies. The EBRD expects the participation of local companies from a wide spectrum of sectors such as manufacturing, agribusiness, infrastructure as well as other segments of the local economy. 

A technical assistance package, financed by the EBRD’s West Bank and Gaza Trust Fund, will help strengthen TNB’s SME lending policies and also offer advanced trade finance training courses.

Launched in 1999, the EBRD’s TFP aims to promote foreign trade among the economies in which the Bank invests, by providing guarantees to international confirming banks and short-term loans to selected banks and factoring companies for on-lending to local exporters, importers and distributors.

The TFP currently includes over 100 partner banks in 29 countries, with limits exceeding €1.5 billion in total and more than 800 confirming banks worldwide.

In 2017 the EBRD Board of Governors approved the engagement of the Bank in the West Bank and Gaza.  To date, two projects have been signed which include an SME credit line to Cairo Amman Bank Palestine for €4.1 million and a €2.0 million loan to Medlabs Consultancy Group to expand its operations in the West Bank by opening 10 branches, offering better medical services to the local population.

The National Bank (TNB) is the fastest growing Palestinian bank and the second largest banking group providing comprehensive, integrated financial services for the corporate, retail, investment and microfinance sectors. With over 9,000 shareholders, TNB commands the largest shareholder base within the Palestinian banking sector with many respected and successful companies on its board. In 2015, TNB acquired Jordan’s Bank al Etihad’s operations in Palestine and in 2018 led a consortium acquiring a majority stake in Palestine Islamic Bank (PIB). 

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