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Published in Al-Ahram Weekly on 25 - 01 - 2017

SUPPORTING WOMEN: Minister of International Cooperation Sahar Nasr said this week that 50 per cent of grants provided through the government for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) would be allocated to women's projects after President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi's announcement that 2017 would be the Year of Women.
Sahar's comments came during a conference on SMEs and their role in the economy organised by Al-Ahram's Al-Shabab (Youth) magazine this week. She said that SMEs provided 60 per cent of jobs and represented 90 per cent of companies in Egypt, adding that they were among the key sectors that provided job opportunities and helped improve incomes for a wide range of people, especially in lagging regions and for targeted groups such as young people and women.
The Ministry of International Cooperation was giving priority to supporting SMEs by providing them with grants, Sahar said. These are offered through the Social Fund for Development, banks such as the European Investment Bank, and NGOs that support the establishment of micro-industries and small projects, she said. She added that support for small enterprises required collaborative efforts from all stakeholders, including the government, the private sector and civil society, in addition to enhancing infrastructure and utilities in industrial zones in certain governorates to help create job opportunities.
It also required the provision of training for workers, entrepreneurs and investors across the governorates in order to help raise the standard of living for families, Sahar said.

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