A document of the online session (Photo: Ministry of Planning)
Egypt’s small and medium-sized enterprise sector comprises 1.7 million enterprises, which represent 44.6% of establishments involved in the formal sector, according to Planning and Economic Development Minister Hala El-Saeed, nothing from the sector does has been affected by the coronavirus crisis.
The sector also employs 5.8 million people, or 43.1 percent of total formal private sector workers.
El-Saeed said on Thursday that Egypt is working to encourage all programs and initiatives that support SME development efforts, expanding the establishment of industrial complexes comprising a large workforce, such as Damietta City. for furniture and Al Robaki City for leather.
In this regard, the government has established 4,500 serviced industrial units, including 750 units in the towns of Ramadan City and Margham, and in the Red Sea Governorate.
She highlighted the Rowad 2030 projects (“rowad” meaning pioneers in Arabic) that the Ministry of Planning has launched with the aim of supporting the capacities of young people and advancing their skills in order to turn their ideas into real projects.
“Rowad 2030 has created nine business incubators in the artificial intelligence (AI) and tourism sectors, in addition to an Egyptian-African business incubator. He also incubated 19 projects in the Mashreq Tourism Incubator and created an Entrepreneurship Monitor ‘Rowad Meter’, which is an up-to-date national database that provides data on all entrepreneurs and business incubators in Egypt. Said El-Saeed, who was on a virtual panel. organized by the International Council for Small Businesses, under the title “The Future of Entrepreneurship, SMEs and Micro-Projects in the Post-COVID-19 Phase”.
In the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, the government is working to support the micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) sector through a number of procedures, including the publication of a new law on MSME which parliament recently approved, the minister said.
The law deals with the informal sector and how to engage it with the formal sector, according to El-Saeed.
The law also encompasses the relaxation of financial provisions for MSMEs and extends several direct and indirect incentives to the sector, in addition to stimulating innovation.
For his part, Hussain Al Mahmoudi, CEO of Sharjah Research, Technology and Innovation Park in the United Arab Emirates, told the panel that Egypt is playing a pioneering role in entrepreneurship and is supporting it by taking measures that have opened up the way to the culture of innovation in the Arab world.
Sanaa Abo Zeid, director of the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, told the roundtable that unemployment is the major challenge facing the Middle East and North Africa, which is expected to skyrocket amid the coronavirus crisis, especially among young people.
She said unemployment costs the region more than $ 40 billion a year, according to IFC studies, adding that the only way to tackle the crisis is to strengthen the private sector and SMEs, which are a contributor. key to GDP and help create new jobs.