IFC Advisory Services in the Middle East and North Africa is a multi-donor facility, which supports private sector development across the region. Some of the similar challenges countries in the region face include high unemployment rates, complex legal and regulatory environments, weak financial institutions, and insufficient infrastructure services.
Last year, we focused on increasing access to finance for the region’s micro, small and medium enterprises to help them expand and create jobs. We also worked to empower young people and women so they could play a greater role in the economy. This included the following:
Boosting Access to Finance and Supporting Financial Inclusion
• Assessed the credit registry of the Central Bank of Tunisia and identified opportunities for the bank to better use available data and expand access to finance. IFC’s support will help BCT strengthen banking sector supervision, and offer data services that will help banks better manage credit risk.
• Helped establish regulatory frameworks for leasing in Afghanistan and helped the Central Bank to establish credit and collateral registries, to improve the investment climate. The collateral registry will create financing opportunities for SMEs that typically possess moveable property as their main asset.
• Signed an agreement with Bank al Etihad to help design a new banking model to identify and understand the needs of SMEs in Jordan.
• Supported Al Kuraimi Islamic Microfinance Bank in Yemen with a comprehensive set of capacity building measures including product diversification into SME and housing finance, risk management and governance, strategic planning, and human resources.
• Helped the Bank of Palestine scale up its banking operations for SMEs in the West Bank and Gaza, especially those owned by women.
• Commissioned a series of reports, Islamic Banking Opportunities Across Small and Medium Enterprises in MENA, to better understand the demand for, and supply of, Islamic banking products in the SME sector. The reports show that SMEs in MENA often face a struggle to get access to finance, but Islamic banking can form part of a solution to that problem.
• Published two in-depth studies on IFC’s role in creating jobs in Pakistan and Lebanon through financial markets investments. The key objective of the studies was to gain insight into the relationship between increased access to finance and job creation among smaller firms.
Supporting Fragile and Conflict-Affected States
• Worked with the Central Bank of Yemen to reform its credit reporting framework, part of wider efforts to improve the country’s financial infrastructure, facilitate lending for smaller businesses, and boost economic growth.
• Helped the Bank of Palestine scale up its banking operations for SMEs in the West Bank and Gaza, especially those owned by women, to drive economic growth. IFC will help the bank develop new products and services catering to the needs of these small firms.
• Signed an agreement with Iraq’s United Bank for Investments (UBI) to boost cross-border trade and help smaller businesses. The largest bank advisory project in the world will allow UBI to expand its network of international partner banks and support the trade-related financing needs of clients.
• Helped West Bank authorities improve sanitation and waste management services for 840,000 people living in the southern West Bank, where illegal dumping has become a major environmental hazard. The landmark agreement will see a private sector consortium operating a modern landfill that should dramatically improve waste management in the area.
Improving Access to Infrastructure
• Helped arrange two new public private partnership mandates for Taif Airport and King Abdul Aziz International Airport in Saudi Arabia, which will ease travel and improve economic integration.
IFC Advisory Services in the Middle East and North Africa is supported by the Canadian International Development Agency, the European Commission, Harakat, International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Islamic Development Bank, Switzerland's State Secretariat for Economic Affairs, UKaid, USAID, and the governments of Denmark, Japan, Luxembourg, Netherlands, and Spain.