Egypt giant lender Banque Misr to scale women-focused SME financing
The IFC and Banque Misr have joined forces to enhance financial access for privately-owned micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), including those owned by women, in Egypt. This collaboration aims to foster job creation, stimulate economic growth, and narrow the gender financing gap.
IFC will extend a $234 million loan to Banque Misr to bolster its lending to micro and small businesses, which constitute the majority of Egypt's private sector workforce and are the primary source of job generation in the country. This loan was announced during the World Bank Group-International Monetary Fund Annual Meetings held in Marrakech.
Half of the loan is designated for women-owned MSMEs, aiming to address the substantial financing gap that these businesses encounter. This loan builds upon IFC's support for Banque Misr's ZAAT program, which provides women with guidance and mentorship to grow their businesses. Over the past year, Banque Misr has introduced banking services to more than 55,000 women.
The World Economic Forum has identified Sub-Saharan Africa as the region with the highest level of female participation in entrepreneurial activities, where women make up 58% of the self-employed workforce. Nevertheless, gender bias continues to pose challenges for women in terms of accessing finance and growing their businesses. According to Briter Bridges, only 3% of the total funding raised by startups in Africa since 2013 has been directed toward all-women co-founded teams. Initiatives like Kuramo's are vital for increasing female representation in the startup sector, which remains significantly smaller in comparison to the growing number of ventures led by men. Given the substantial female entrepreneurial base, it is essential for Africa to implement strategies that prioritize gender-inclusive investment practices. IFC has an investment portfolio in Egypt amounting to nearly $1.7bn and an active advisory portfolio of $32m.