The Union of Arab Banks (UAB) organised a specialised workshop entitled “Strategies and mechanisms for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and micro-enterprises”, which was held from 10 to 14 April.
A number of experts in the SMEs sector from Egypt, Jordan, Sudan, Lebanon, and Tunisia participated in the workshop.
Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) deputy governor Tarek Amer commenced the workshop. He put an emphasis on the CBE’s role in supporting the financing of these projects through its recently launched initiatives.
These initiatives target facilitating financing for these projects, which is considered the main hurdle to their development, said Amer.
According to regional director of the UAB in Cairo, Hani Abdallah, the union is keen to support SMEs in Arab countries.
The union agreed with the World Bank to prepare a comprehensive study about financing such projects in the Middle East and North Africa region, said Abdallah.
In a presentation about SMEs in the Arab region, Abdallah mentioned the difficulty in obtaining financing, the weakness of qualification and training, and the high operational costs as the major challenges facing SMEs.
He went on to say that other challenges come about in the difficulties associated with the expatriate labour, as well as lack of strategy and windows for marketing these projects products, in addition to the procedural obstacles that owners face.
Deputy General Manager for SMEs at Banque Misr Ahmed Fouad Khalil also participated in the workshop. He confirmed that the initiatives launched by the CBE to encourage banks to finance these projects will have a positive impact on providing job opportunities, increasing locally made products, which, in turn, will contribute to reducing the need to import many products.
Banks should develop strategies for financing SMEs, especially concerning risk management related to financing these projects, Khalil said.
Also in attendance was head of SMEs at Antoine Zarifa, credit risk manager at the National Microfinance Bank in Jordan Sameh Mahariq, and director of briefing, diagnosis and development at the Tunisia Reem Al-Makani.