During his meeting with Minister of Industry and Trade Tarek Kabil, President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi emphasised the importance of small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and how these could improve Egypt’s economy.
The president noted that banks should provide loans with low interest rates not exceeding 5%, as the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) initiative stipulated.
However, experts believe that SMEs need more than loans to succeed.
Aliaa Mamdouh, a former economist at CI Capital, sees that the government does not care enough about SMEs, explaining that the borrowing terms the CBE applies are unfavourable.
She believes that entrepreneurs cannot borrow from banks unless the CBE provides easier conditions for loans.
Mamdouh said that the government must propose investment incentives for SMEs to make investors begin their projects across all governorates, as Singapore and Malaysia did to accelerate entrepreneurs’ efforts in starting new businesses.
She stated that the low interest rate is good, yet the price of land is too high for small investors.
Entrepreneurs could pay for the land if the government provided payment facilities, which could allow the investors to pay from their income when they begin the project, says Mamdouh.
Banks must create departments for SMEs to study every project and give them a hand in marketing and how to promote their products, in a way that guarantees success.
Reham El-Desoki, senior economist at Arqaam Capital investment bank in Cairo, said that small enterprises face many obstacles in their projects, including access to land with the right infrastructure, bookkeeping, access to legal utilities, and low cost financing.
The government must find exceptional places for SMEs, she noted, adding that it should also help them in bookkeeping, marketing, and licensing among others, which would help them obtain loans from banks.
El-Desoki sees the president’s decision to reduce the price of a square metre of land in Port Said as a step in the right direction, explaining that EGP 700 per square metre could be more suitable for medium-sized enterprises rather than small ones that cannot afford to pay for a lot of overheads.