Egypt - International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, and Banque Misr, Egypt’s second-largest public sector bank, have announced a partnership to increase access to finance for privately-owned micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), including women-owned MSMEs, in the country. The partnership aims to create jobs, boost economic growth, and reduce the gender financing gap.

IFC will provide Banque Misr with a $234m loan to support its lending to micro and small businesses, which employ most of Egypt’s private sector workforce and are the main source of job creation in the country. The loan was announced at the World Bank Group – International Monetary Fund Annual Meetings in Marrakech.

Half of the loan will be dedicated to women-owned MSMEs, helping address the large financing gap that these businesses face. The loan builds on IFC’s support for Banque Misr’s ZAAT programme, which provides women with advice and mentorship to grow their businesses. Over the past year, Banque Misr has introduced banking services to more than 55,000 women.

The loan is IFC’s first gender-lens investment in a public sector bank in Egypt. It consists of $190.7m from IFC and $43.3m from IFC’s Managed Co-Lending Portfolio Program (MCPP) One Planet. The project will also benefit from concessional funding made available by IFC’s Global SME Finance Facility.

Mohamed El-Etreby, Chairperson of Banque Misr, said: “Our partnership with IFC will help us expand our outreach to women-led businesses in our SME banking portfolio and enhance financial inclusion for women entrepreneurs across the country. It will also help us transition informal micro-businesses, many of which are owned or led by women, into the formal sector. We are committed to supporting businesses in Egypt to grow, create jobs, and drive economic growth.”

Sérgio Pimenta, IFC Vice President for Africa, said: “Increasing access to finance for MSMEs and women-owned businesses can help create jobs, boost economic growth, and reduce poverty. This investment is further evidence of IFC’s commitment to supporting the Egyptian government in strengthening its private sector and promoting gender equality.”

The investment aligns with the World Bank Group’s Country Partnership Framework for Egypt, which seeks to support more and better private sector jobs in the country, among other objectives.

IFC has an investment portfolio in Egypt amounting to nearly $1.7bn and an active advisory portfolio of $32m. IFC supports Egypt’s private sector in key areas such as access to finance, fintech, climate finance, manufacturing, infrastructure and renewable energy, healthcare, and gender inclusion.

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