Washington, October 9, 2016 - An agreement to partner on a new joint initiative to support first time entrepreneurs, and in particular young people and women, was signed today in Washington DC by the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the World Bank Group (WBG). Roman Escolano, Vice President of the EIB, and Hafez Ghanem, World Bank Vice President for the Middle East and North Africa, signed a Letter of Intent to develop and support the Boost MENA initiative at the margins of the 2016 IMF/World Bank Group Annual Meetings. This agreement reaffirms the WBG and EIB’s long-term partnership in the Mediterranean region.
The objective of Boost MENA is to set up a new investment facility for countries in the Middle East and North Africa that combines financing for innovative start-ups and early-stage growth companies backed by significant technical assistance. It will also contribute to the international response to the refugee crisis. Boost MENA is the first initiative of its kind to provide financial support for innovation and entrepreneurship to promote job creation on an unprecedented scale across the region. In particular, the initiative’s integrated approach will target support to the earliest and riskiest stages of entrepreneurship. The project design will provide long-term support to programmes targeting entrepreneurs, such as business accelerators/incubators, seed funds, business angel networks, equity-crowd platforms, social impact funds and venture capital funds.
Roman Escolano Vice President of the EIB said, “Boost MENA very much represents the new paradigm of financing when it comes to development. It represents a real scaling up of our efforts to encourage first-time entrepreneurs particularly among youth and women – not just by providing finance but also by offering vital technical assistance. The Partnership of the EIB and WBG is also crucial in this regard: by pooling our expertise we can ensure a far greater impact on the ground. Giving young entrepreneurs and women the chance to set up their own companies will boost the creation of quality jobs, help reverse the brain drain in the region while also helping to address some of the root causes of the migration of skilled and unskilled young people as well as responding to the current refugee crisis in the region”
Hafez Ghanem, World Bank Vice President for MENA, said, “The potential of youth in the MENA region remains largely untapped. It is more essential than ever to support young entrepreneurs, especially young women, and help them to become the drivers of growth and to ultimately lay the ground for prosperity and peace in the MENA region. Our partnership with the European Investment Bank will allow us to leverage our resources in support of the future of the region.”
Boost MENA is intended to draw lessons from the recently published joint report from the EBRD, the EIB and the WBG “What’s holding back the private sector in MENA?” based on the MENA Enterprise Survey (ES) of more than 6,000 firms in eight countries, identifying the private sector as a key driver for growth and rising prosperity, on the condition that effective business enabling policies, enhanced access to finance and support to entrepreneurship and innovation are ensured.
About the partners
The WBG through its development and policy activities has invested over 100 million dollars in projects on access to financing for start-ups and early stage growth companies in the MENA region. As such the WBG has built an extensive network of experts and stakeholders from both the private sector and government. Combined with its multiple Global Practices (GPs), Cross-Cutting Solutions GPs, the IFC and MIGA, the WBG provides the capacity to convene policy decision makers, and devise technical and operational solutions across various development agendas.
The EIB is the European Union’s long-term lending institution and is owned by its 28 Member States. As the largest multilateral lender worldwide, it invests over EUR 1.4 billion yearly in the MENA region, to the benefit of public and private sector promoters. Thanks to the Facility for Euro-Mediterranean Investment and Partnership (FEMIP) risk-capital mandate, the EIB has developed a unique expertise and network of financial partners. Through its investments in funds, the EIB supports more than 150 companies employing more than 80.000 individuals. In line with EU priorities, the EIB supports sustainable investments in the MENA region, addressing key issues such as youth unemployment, financial inclusion and private sector development.