The International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, signed on Sunday an agreement with Banque Misr, Egypt’s second-largest bank, to help expand the number of women-led businesses in its SME Banking portfolio, part of the IFC’s efforts to boost financial inclusion for women entrepreneurs in the country.
The IFC will work with Banque Misr to conduct market research on the needs of women in business; provide access to global best practice; and develop and implement a sustainable business model for its women banking programme. It will also support the bank in helping informal micro businesses—often owned or led by women—move to the formal sector. The aim is to turn Banque Misr, which has a network of 620 branches, into the country’s leading bank for women in business.
Mohamed El Etriby, chairperson of Banque Misr said that women entrepreneurs make up a significant portion of smaller businesses in Egypt but they struggle to access the finance and support they need to manage and grow their businesses. For banks, this represents a missed business opportunity. With the IFC’s help, the bank aim to expand its outreach to this segment, support businesses in Egypt to grow, create jobs, and drive economic growth.
The IFC noted that SMEs contribute 38% of total employment and 33% of Egypt’s GDP, but often struggle to access financing. Women-owned SMEs, in particular, have an estimated credit demand of $283m and $246m of potential deposits.
Mouayed Makhlouf, the IFC regional director in the Middle East and North Africa said that women entrepreneurs are changing the face of the global economy and helping to sustain job creation, but only about one in 10 have access to the capital they need.
Makhlouf added that the IFC is working to address this gap in Egypt by partnering with financial institutions like Banque Misr to develop the strategies they need to serve this key untapped market segment.
The project will be executed under the IFC’s Women Banking Champions programme in MENA, a donor facility supported by Switzerland’s State Secretariat for Economic Affairs and the IFC’s Global Banking on Women programme.
The IFC’s Global Banking on Women programme aims to help partners and financial institutions serve women-owned businesses profitably and sustainably. With a goal that 25% of its loans provided to SMEs through financial intermediaries go to women-owned SMEs, IFC has launched 40 women banking projects in 27 countries under the programme to date.
The signing was attended by a number of senior officials from the banking sector, including Lobna Helal, Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Egypt.