As part of the US delegation’s mission to Egypt, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), a US government financing institution, signed a $150 million deal with private equity group Abraaj Capital. The new commitment targets the enhancement and development of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
Managed by Aureos Capital, Abraaj’s SMEs investment platform, the Riyada Enterprise Development Growth Capital Fund (RED) will target investments in a wide range of economic sectors in the MENA region. In the case of Egypt, the fund will focus on the sectors of the franchise, banking, SMEs lending, and renewable energy.
Commenting on the new deal, OPIC’s Chief of Staff, John Morton, told the Daily News Egypt, “we have a strong commitment to the region. The Secretary of State visited last year and committed $2 billion of OPIC’s financing to the region. President Obama subsequently committed an additional billion for Egypt specifically. So we’re currently the process of developing deals, to fulfil those two pledges. In Egypt we’re up to $433 million so far and we’re on our way to a billion.”
According to their press release, Mustafa Abdel-Wadood, Abraaj Capital Ltd CEO said “Abraaj Capital is fully committed to supporting the expansion of small and mid-cap (SMC) businesses across the Arab world. We are very pleased to have joined hands in this effort with OPIC, which is investing in long-term economic growth in the wider region. We firmly believe that the SMC segment, which continues to suffer from a dearth of capital, is critical for economic development and job creation. At the same time, having recently invested in 15 SMCs across the MENA in various value-added industries, including two businesses in Egypt, we also recognise the tremendous growth opportunities that exist in this segment of the market.”
When asked of the challenges to the implementation of OPIC’s expansionist strategy in the region, Morton cited uncertainty as the main obstacle. “We speak with investors who have capital and want to invest, but are very unsure of what will come next” Morton told the Daily News Egypt.
However, Morton’s optimism regarding the future of investing in Egypt was exemplified when he stated that “this delegation has in fact helped businesses get a real, strong sense of the commitment of the president, the prime minister, and senior leadership in this country that they are dedicated to insuring as much stability, business continuity, transparency, and accountability as possible.”