EGYPT – Saudi Arabia, through its Saudi Grant Management Committee, has given Bank of Alexandria, one of Egypt’s largest banks, a US$6.4 million grant to finance digital transformation and encourage local crafts programs in the country.
Egypt’s Minister of International Cooperation, Rania Al-Mashat, said that the Saudi Grant Management Committee funding for the Bank of Alexandria will strengthen financing mechanisms to support small, medium and micro enterprises, and create job opportunities.
The Saudi Arabia Grant Committee has funded 2,180 projects so far in 27 governorates, creating about 12,000 jobs.
Al-Mashat praised the Kingdom’s financial contribution to creating new jobs and achieving the goals of the National Development Agenda 2030.
Under people at the core, Al-Mashat asserted that the grant aims to revive local artisanship and reinvigorate the new artisan economy, which has become as increasingly important in the face of high global demand for high-quality, artisanal products that are also produced in a sustainable way.
In June, the committee agreed to fund three projects for the Agricultural Bank and two health care initiatives to the tune of US$19 million.
The three projects will finance small and micro enterprises in rural villages, targeting projects undertaken by women as well as handicraft activities.
Financing programs targeted by the Bank of Alexandria include digital transformation in the bank’s 176 branches in 26 governorates, with a focus on the Cairo and Alexandria governorates.
The second program will finance handicraft micro-projects through the bank’s branches in 26 governorates, focusing on the governorates of Delta, Upper Egypt, Cairo and Alexandria.
The bank’s portfolio in the medium, small and micro enterprises sector is worth about US$600 million.
According to an official statement, it is expected that about 1,475 clients will benefit from the funds, with 30 percent going to women-owned companies and 45 percent to firms owned by people under 35.
The most prominent intermediaries are the National Bank of Egypt and the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency, in addition to the beneficiaries of the direct grant financing, including FJ Hermes Financial Leasing Company and Inmaa Leasing Company.
Al-Mashat praised the fruitful cooperation between Egypt and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which has resulted in several development cooperation programmes, including grants for SMEs, development projects for the Sinai Peninsula and other programmes that reflect positively on Egypt’s development.
The committee affiliated with the Saudi Fund for Development (SFD) extends its finances to SMEs through medium entities including the National Bank of Egypt and the Small and Medium Enterprise Development Agency.
Financial leasing companies are the major beneficiaries from the committee’s funds, which are provided directly without resorting to intermediaries.
The SFD’s capital is worth US$31 billion, introducing total funding of US$61 billion to 83 beneficiary countries, including Egypt.
Saudi Arabia’s direct investment in Egypt witnessed a drop of 43.3 percent during the first quarter of FY2019/2020, recording US$69.3 million, down from US$122.4 million during the same period of FY2019/2018, according to the Central Bank of Egypt’s latest data released in January 2020.
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