German funding for women’s projects – Egypt – Al-Ahram Weekly

German funding for women’s projects

Despite the fact that women-owned and managed businesses are playing an increasingly important role in Egypt, they still have a long way to go. According to the Global Gender Gap Report 2022, only one in 50 companies in Egypt is majority-owned by women and only 6% of companies have female leaders.

Women make up less than a quarter of the workforce in Egypt, says a press release issued by Invest for Employment (IFE), an investment facility set up by the KFW Development Bank on behalf of the German Ministry of Employment. economic cooperation and development.

The lack of representation of women in the economy is a brake on economic growth, and to remedy this, the IFE launched in November a call for project proposals in Egypt with a focus on women.

The initiative aims to support women entrepreneurs and women-led businesses and to make funding available for projects that promote women’s employment. Applications are open to private companies as well as public entities, universities, chambers, associations and NGOs.

The IFE was launched in 2020 to promote and finance projects in African countries and create more jobs in the private sector, explained Karim Gad, national focal point for the IFE in Egypt.

He said that in 2018, the G20 group of countries launched its Invest for Jobs initiative to support job creation in partner African countries, including Egypt. Investing for Jobs was adopted by the German government, and Investing for Jobs was introduced by German Development Bank KFW last year.

The initiative initially supported green projects. This year, the first call will be for businesswomen, followed by a regional call in several countries.

According to Gad, the initiative is looking for mature projects. “Projects must be in a very advanced state in terms of feasibility studies or market studies, but they do not need to have started due to obstacles beyond the entrepreneur or applicant concerned” , did he declare.

Among the selection criteria is that the projects do not currently have access to funds. “It means that the money from the IFE will make a difference in seeing the project come to life,” he said, adding that the initiative is also ready to support projects that banks may consider high risk. or require guarantees that the contractor cannot provide.

More importantly, the project must create sustainable jobs with growth prospects. Funds are generally granted on the basis of co-financing, varying from 25% of the total cost of the investment to 90% of the total.

The initiative aims to lift the investment barrier as well as encourage foreign investment in the Egyptian market, Gad said. Some of these barriers include the absence or lack of infrastructure, such as the need for improved energy supply or road systems.

Other financial institutions may grant loans only in local currency or require applicants to make large interest payments or guarantees that may exceed the cost of the entire project.

This year’s call is for women to comply with government targets to increase the role of women in the labor market.

“Our overarching goal is to create 100,000 jobs in the first five years of operation. We want to grow and help as many private and public entities as possible in order to create more good jobs,” concluded Gad.

*A version of this article appeared in the September 29, 2022 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.

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James R. Rhodes