The Saudi Grant Management Committee has provided a grant worth EGP 100 million to the Bank of Alexandria to support the digitalisation of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and to back local Egyptian artisans and craftsmen, Minister of International Cooperation Rania Al-Mashat announced.
The announcement came during the committee’s 26th meeting that took place recently, chaired by Mrs Ghadeer Hegazy, assistant Minister of International Cooperation, and Hasan Al-Attas, director general of operation at the Saudi Fund for Development, as well as representatives from the Bank of Alexandria.
Al-Mashat expounded that the grant comes under the Ministry of International Cooperation’s Global Partnerships Narrative, which is defined by the triple Ps: people at the core, projects in action, and purpose as the driver.
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.
The grant also aims to strengthen the financing mechanisms for micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises, as they are main the engines for job creation and taps on the talent and potential of Egypt youth.
In this regard, representatives from the Bank of Alexandria gave a presentation during the meeting on the financing programmes that the bank targets, which include 26 governorates, including Cairo, Alexandria and governorates in Upper Egypt through fixed asset financing and working capital.
The bank estimated that there will be around 1,475 beneficiaries, including 30 percent for women-owned enterprises, and 45 percent for enterprises owned by people under the age of 35 to promote the inclusive economy.
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 Saudi Arabia Grant Management Committee has so far funded 2,180 projects in 27 governorates, which have contributed to the creation of about 12,000 job opportunities under the $200 million grant signed in 2016.
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 $31 billion, introducing total funding of $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 $69.3 million, down from $122.4 million during the same period of FY2019/2018, according to the Central Bank of Egypt’s latest data released in January 2020.