The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is launching its first investment in the West Bank and Gaza: a US$ 5 million loan to Cairo Amman Bank Palestine that will increase access to finance for the economy’s micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs).
The signing ceremony took place at the Palestine Monetary Authority (PMA) in Ramallah in the presence of the PMA Governor, His Excellency Azzam Shawwa; EBRD President, Sir Suma Chakrabarti; and Cairo Amman Bank Palestine Regional Manager, Joseph Nesnas.
President Chakrabarti said: “We are delighted to begin our operations in the West Bank and Gaza. Supporting small businesses through our first investment is highly symbolic. At the EBRD we believe that MSMEs are the backbone of the economy as they contribute to employment and economic growth.”
The EBRD’s goal is to strengthen the private sector, building on an already-strong entrepreneurial tradition in the West Bank and Gaza, he added.
His Excellency Governor Shawwa welcomed the signing of the agreement and said: "We thank the EBRD for its fast responses to fulfil the needs of the local economy through finance to the MSME sector, which makes up 95 per cent of the local economy. This contributes to the sustainability of this sector, creates further job opportunities, advances the development process, and enhances financial inclusion in Palestine."
For his part, Mr Nesnas said: "We are proud to be the first partners of the EBRD in the launch of its first investment in Palestine. This investment will help us seriously and effectively contribute to the national economy by providing a credit line for MSMEs, a sector that constitutes the backbone of our national economy and plays a key role in the development process."
A technical assistance package, financed by the EBRD West Bank and Gaza Trust Fund, will support Cairo Amman Bank Palestine to strengthen its skill sets and competitiveness in SME lending.
The EBRD Board of Governors approved the engagement of the EBRD in the West Bank and Gaza in May 2017.
Operating from the EBRD’s office in Amman, the Bank will provide support for private sector competitiveness and innovation in the West Bank and Gaza, increasing access to finance for MSMEs, fostering a sustainable supply of energy and promoting private sector participation in energy efficiency and infrastructure.
The EBRD was established in 1991 with the goal of supporting market economies and promoting the private sector. Having started in central and Eastern Europe, today the Bank operates in 38 economies across three continents, from Morocco to Mongolia and from Estonia to Egypt.