27 September 2016
AMMAN -- The Netherlands on Sunday extended a $3 million soft loan to support small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) across Jordan.
The loan was awarded to the Nomou fund -- a local entity managed by GroFin-Jordan, a development financier that addresses challenges facing the SMEs sector.
Under the loan agreement, GroFin will provide the necessary financial, administrative and legal support to entrepreneurs who struggle to secure funding through banks.
At a press conference, Dutch Ambassador in Amman Paul van den IJseel underlined the importance of the loan in empowering local SMEs, which he noted were considered the backbone of national economies.
"We strongly believe that in Jordan, as in many other countries, including my own, small- and medium-sized enterprises are a key component of the economic and social fabric," he highlighted.
The diplomat underlined that the goal of the initiative is mainly to enable "ambitious Jordanian entrepreneurs to bring their ideas into practice while providing growth, innovation and employment to the Jordanian society".
"As a long-standing partner of Jordan, we believe that by helping SMEs access finance and business support, we support the Jordanian economy and Jordan at large," said IJseel, noting that access to finance is sometimes a major obstacle to the establishment and growth of SMEs.
The Netherlands extended a grant of 60 million euros to Jordan in May to assist local communities hosting Syrian refugees, the ambassador noted.
On the other hand, the diplomat underlined his country's "strong" support for the EU deal to relax the rules of origins for Jordanian products to improve the Kingdom's access to European markets.
In November, a Jordanian day will be held in the Netherlands to promote the Kingdom as an investment destination for Dutch companies, he said.
"This day will most likely be followed by a trade mission to Jordan for Dutch companies at the beginning of next year," IJseel said.
GroFin-Jordan General Manager Alfinaz Murad said Nomou, which has successfully funded several SMEs over the last couple of years, targets entrepreneurs whose schemes are considered "non-bankable" due to their high risk.
"We accept all innovative ideas in sectors related to agriculture, health, education, energy and services," she said, noting that more than 70 SMEs are expected to benefit from the loan, creating more than 3,000 direct and 12,000 indirect job opportunities.
Murad highlighted that the interest rate will be dependent on the type of the schemes proposed, with the repayment period ranging between four to six and even eight years.
"We do not refuse any feasible project... we are not a bank, we are very flexible," she noted.
Since its inception in 1999, GroFin international has financed and supported over 5,859 SMEs that created more than 12,746 jobs, resulting in $1.51 billion in economic impact, according to the company.
In partnership with the Shell Foundation, GroFin-Jordan manages Nomou, a fund which focuses on creating sustainable employment, and economic and social development through the growth of the SMEs sector.
"We have helped empower many Jordanian women in the governorates by equipping them with the necessary tools to excel at their businesses," Murad said.
© Jordan Times 2016