The International Financial Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank group, is investing $6m in Fawry, the electronic payment provider, in an effort to extend financial services and encourage economic development in Egypt.
The fund will be used to extend the network of payment terminals across the country. It is expected to help consumers paying bills and businesses to receive payments.
The investment will also help restore investors’ confidence in the Egyptian economy and will create jobs in the high-tech sector.
“IFC has a developmental dimension. It’s not merely a lender interested in a country; it also has the expertise and the long term vision. The investment is a certificate of trust for Fawry, a company that was founded by Egyptians, through a lengthy, difficult process. It is also a gate to take Egyptian products to similar markets,” said Ashraf Sabry, CEO of Fawry.
Sabry expressed his belief in the potential of the Egyptian economy, noting that growing by as little as 1% or 2% in the current circumstances is a unique thing. He added that being in a bad situation means there is room for improvement, confirming that we have to look at the holistic picture, not just the small details.
“We are building an infrastructure,” said Sabry, answering a question on the usage of the fund. “What we do is we enlarge and diversify our infrastructure to accept different kinds of payments and better serve the households and the businesses.”
“We are very proud of Fawry’s unique experience of developing its platform,” said Mouayed Makhlouf, IFC director for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). “Our region needs more investments of this sort”
“The Arab Spring has showed us the need to create jobs,” he continued. “Twenty-five percent of youth in the MENA region are unemployed. Our strategy is to boost employment through the private sector.”
Mouayed also said: “The infrastructure in MENA is very underdeveloped; it needs $160bn in investments annually. Fawry is a part of this investment as it provides electronic infrastructure.”
The IFC director for MENA shared his belief in Egypt’s potential in the private sector as well, confirming IFC’s $5bn portfolio in the region.
Fawry’s services are used by more than 10 million people to make payments to 43 providers. The company has more than 20,000 payment locations, including retail stores, post offices, and the ATMs of 10 commercial banks. Fawry is planning to increase the number of payment locations to 35,000 by 2016.
The investment is part of IFC’s efforts to catalyse foreign investment in Egypt and support the private sector. In the 2012 fiscal year, IFC committed $506m to seven local projects, a figure that included $125m mobilised from other investors. IFC has over $1bn invested in Egypt.