Egypt mulls microfinance scheme to help small businesses

20 July 2015

Cairo looks to encourage job growth in the Golden Triangle area

  • D’Appolonia’s 30-year masterplan for the Golden Triangle is due to be published in February 2016
  • Egyptian ministers have discussed using microfinance to help businesses grow in the region
  • Only 35 per cent of Egyptians have access to a bank account according to MasterCard

Egypt is mulling the use of a microfinance scheme to help facilitate the growth of small businesses and related jobs in the Golden Triangle special economic zone.

The Italian engineering services company D’Appolonia, which has been charged with developing a 30-year masterplan for the area, met with Egyptian ministers earlier this month to present its initial ideas for the region.

“The ministers showed interest in the idea of using microfinance to facilitate the growth of small and medium sized businesses in the Golden Triangle area,” said D’Appolonia’s sector development manager Cristina Migliaro.

“Microfinance could be used to help businesses grow across all sectors, not just for companies that are connected to the mining sector,” she said.

According to D’Appolonia the 30-year masterplan for the Golden Triangle will be driven by mining projects, with agriculture, transport, and tourism projects also having a significant role to play.

The Golden Triangle Project in Upper Egypt is being promoted by the government as an example of an integrated industrial complex that will help to maximise the value of Egypt’s natural resources to the economy.

It focuses on development in a triangular-shaped area that covers 6,000 square kilometers between the towns of Edfu, south of Quena, to Marsa Alam, on the Red Sea coast, to Safaga, which is located to the north of Marsa Alam.

Modern microfinance was pioneered in the 1970s by the Bangladeshi social entrepreneur Muhammad Yunus as a way of providing financial services to businesses that lack access to traditional banks.

Currently only 35 per cent of Egyptians have access to a bank account according to MasterCard.

D’Appolonia’s 30-year masterplan for the Golden Triangle is due to be published in February 2016.

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