MENA – The World Bank Group, in partnership with the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Sweden and Switzerland, has launched a new, broader phase of its aid program technique to improve access to finance for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs).

World Bank says that the objective is to promote the creation of sustainable jobs and stimulate an economic growth that is driven by the private sector, in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.

MSMEs are the backbone of the economies of the countries of this region.

World Bank notes that MSMEs represent up to 90% of the private sector and they play a crucial role in job creation and the emergence of a dynamic, competitive and inclusive economy.

Despite the important role they play to the economies in this region, MSMEs in MENA have a difficulty in accessing finance and this greatly hampers their growth.

To address this problem, the World Bank project is expected to improve access to credit for MSMEs in Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Tunisia and the West Bank and Gaza (Palestine).

The 5-year technical assistance program will be implemented by the World Bank and IFC through targeted regional projects and country-focused initiatives.

World Bank said that the program will particularly focus on supporting women entrepreneurs and will use digital technology to stimulate financial inclusion.

“A strong MSME sector can generate jobs and economic opportunities for women, encourage innovation and harness the energy of young people in a productive way,” said Ceyla Pazarbasioglu, Vice-President of the Fair Growth, Finance and Institutions division. World Bank.

On his part, Sérgio Pimenta, IFC Vice-President for Africa and the Middle East said, “A dynamic private sector, supported by strong MSMEs and forward-looking entrepreneurs, is vital to stimulate sustainable and long-term growth in the MENA region.”

“With our partners, we will work together in the region to consolidate the private sector and strengthen the long-term stability of the financial sector.”

The program according to the World Bank is currently in phase 2 and the initiatives will focus on the experience acquired under the previous technical assistance project implemented from 2012 to 2018.

During the first phase, the mechanism for MSMEs in the MENA region program was implemented in Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan, the West Bank and Gaza, Libya and Lebanon.

In total, 80 projects were launched with more than 5 million microcredits being advanced and about 69,075 loans worth US$7.9 billion being disbursed to SMEs.