According to the Director of the Social Fund for Development, Soha Soliman, the amount of the Fund’s loan portfolio is estimated to be EGP 4.5bn. The majority of the shares will be dedicated to support small and micro enterprises in poor governorates, according to the SFD, which falls under the Ministry of Industry and Foreign Trade.
In Soliman’s words, the SFD is aiming to provide credit for small and micro enterprises during 2015, guided by a poverty map that includes all Egypt’s governorates. The SFD focuses not only on reaching out to the poor governorates, but also on expanding the base for loans in villages and the poorer hamlets located in Upper Egypt.
How much is the loans portfolio, intended to be dedicated to small and micro enterprises, during 2015?
The loans’ portfolio provided by the SFD this year for small and micro enterprises is EGP 4.5bn. The aim of this portfolio is to support marginalised classes, whether they are marginalised because of geographical facts, age or gender. We are working on providing youth and women with loans, the majority of the share for the current year will be dedicated to the poor zones, according to the poverty map that has just been set.
Concerning the poverty map, how will the SFD be present in the governorates located in Upper Egypt, keeping in mind that these are the poorest zones in Egypt?
The SFD activities during the next period will be guided by the Anti-Poverty strategy, we are working on fighting poverty, not only in the governorates, but also in the smaller administrative units located in the poorest hamlets in Southern Egypt. The SFD will concentrate its activities in the following period in the governorates located in Upper Egypt; this does not mean that the SFD will withdraw from the urban governorates. The plan will be implemented according to the Anti-Poverty strategy. This map will benefit many people; loans estimated at EGP 50,000 will be available in order to provide employment opportunities. The SFD mainly concentrates on small and micro enterprises, unlike the medium ones which are out of its plan.
Will the SFD support the Egyptian labourers arriving from Libya?
No doubt, the SFD will work on supporting Egyptians arriving from Libya and helping them find employment, we just need to finish the data concerning their numbers.
What will the support be like, and what is the number of beneficiaries?
The SFD will have a great role in supporting Egyptian labour returning from Libya through a credit product dedicated to them. We are about to finish setting conditions for this product and there will be some facilities, however, we are facing some difficulties because these labourers don’t have any money. And there is a need for three to five labourers to enter into a single contribution through which the loan becomes obtainable.
What is the size of the loan portfolio specified for this item?
The total loan portfolio allocated for supporting Libyan labours returning from Libya will be EGP 50m in the first portion. We will increase it if there was a need for that. We will begin work on the project during this month.
Entrepreneurial projects are considered important for pushing the Egyptian economy towards growth – will the SFD have a role in supporting them?
Yes, entrepreneurship projects are important for supporting the national economy, and special attention must be paid to them during this phase. These projects have the creativity and ability to export products abroad and not just to the domestic market. The SFD signed agreements with the World Bank to provide technical and financial support to these kinds of projects. The loan portfolio allocated for the support of entrepreneurship reaches EGP 120m. It excites us to see a small project growing and receiving loans that exceed EGP 2m from the banking system, as these projects provide more job opportunities and are the future of Egypt. These projects are characterised by innovation and continuity, something that we truly need.
How will the SFD support entrepreneurs?
There’s special attention from different state agencies to supporting entrepreneurship projects as they’re considered a sort of “thinking outside the box”. The fund will enter into contributions to support entrepreneurs in order for their activities to grow. Contributions in projects will make major differences in the market, in terms of ability to maintain continuity as well as competition in a way that pushes the activity towards growth.