CAIRO: The EGY Finance Conference opens today in Cairo, and will present over $2 billion of grants, technical assistance instruments and lines of credit availed by donors.
“EGY Finance is an initiative of the business community aiming at supporting the business community in its strive to modernize, globalize and grow, said Alaa Ezz, secretary general of the Confederation of Egyptian European Business Associations (CEEBA), the body organizing the conference.
“The message is simple: here are the tools and instruments, they have been created for you, use them and grow, he added.
EGY Finance is Egypt’s first conference and exhibition on banking and non-banking financial services, seeking to enhance the country’s economy at times of global financial turmoil.
The event will be inaugurated by Egypt’s Minister of Trade Rachid Mohamed Rachid and Head of the European Commission Delegation to Egypt Klaus Ebermann. Other participants include Egyptian business tycoons Naguib Sawiris and Mohamed Farid Khamis.
With the global credit crunch on everybody’s mind, Ezz believes the timing of the conference cannot be more opportune. “It is the right time to mediate the message that Egypt s financial sector is not affected by the first wave of the global financial crisis, he added.
“Still, Egyptian companies must modernize, grow, and be more solid to overcome the possible following waves, and here are the tools.
EGY Finance will display examples of technical assistance tools and grants offered by the European Commission, USAID, Germany, Italy, Spain, Denmark as well as Egypt through the Industrial Modernization Center and the Industrial Training Center.
The conference will also feature novel financing instruments such as factoring, leasing, and mortgage finance in the presence of their regulators – the Capital Market Authority and the Mortgage Finance Authority – besides leading institutions in the sector such as Global Investment House and Corplease.
“Properly designed and regulated financial instruments are the lifelines for any business. Today over 70 percent of Egypt s economy is led by the private sector, so any support to that vibrant growing tax-paying job-creator will reflect in 70 percent of the national economy, Ezz explained.
“In simple words, the government has changed its role from an inefficient operator to the highly needed regulator. And the private sector is the one responsible for enhancing the economic growth.
Also on display in the conference are examples of financial tools including lines of credit, soft loans, and SME funding offered by leading Egyptian and foreign institutions. The conference will shed light on financial tools offered by multilateral donors including the UNDP, World Bank, and the International Finance Corporation.
Ezz ruled out the possibility that such financial instruments could be threatened by the global financial crisis. “These instruments are here to stay.
They were available before the financial crisis, and their funds have already been allocated to Egypt.
EGY Finance will also give special attention to SME funding, which contribute some 70 percent to GDP.
“SMEs naturally need financing more than any other time to survive the [economic] slowdown through modernization and competitiveness, and more importantly to grow in preparation for the boom that follows the slowdown, Ezz explained. “The economic slowdown drives larger companies to restructure, return to their core activities, and outsource. Such spin-offs become SMEs that need finance. And the outsourcing is a golden opportunity for existing SMEs to grow even during the slowdown.