Press release

New UK boost for Arab businesses

Prime Minister David Cameron announces new support for businesses across the Middle East and North Africa at the World Islamic Economic Forum.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

9th World Islamic Economic Forum taking place in London, 29 - 31 October 2013.
9th World Islamic Economic Forum taking place in London, 29 - 31 October 2013. Picture: FCO

Businesses across the Middle East and North Africa will get a £4.5 million boost from the UK, Prime Minister David Cameron announced at the World Islamic Economic Forum today.

The UK’s funding to the Nomou business initiative will be amplified by the Shell Foundation to support ‘missing middle’ businesses - those too large for microfinance but too small for traditional bank loans.

The fund will provide business support to more than 600 small and medium sized businesses and create more than 15,000 jobs in 5 countries including Jordan and Egypt where unemployment remains a huge problem.

Thousands of women across the Middle East and North Africa will also get help in growing their businesses and finding employment under a separate joint initiative from the UK and the Islamic Development Bank.

The UK will provide £6 million in new funding on top of an existing £4 million commitment to the Arab Women’s Enterprise Fund, which will be matched by the Islamic Development Bank.

Minister of State for International Development Alan Duncan said:

Jobs and growth are critical to the stability of the Middle East and North Africa. We are pleased to be working with the Shell Foundation to create thousands of jobs that will contribute towards the stable economic environment needed for growth and prosperity in the region.

Women are the engine of growth and it is not possible for a country to develop without investing in women. We are delighted to be working with the Islamic Development Bank to design and implement exciting projects that will strengthen women’s economic contribution to the Middle East and North Africa.

The new support for the Arab Women’s Enterprise Fund is aimed at improving the competitiveness of women entrepreneurs in the Arab world, which currently has the lowest rates of female participation in the global labour force.

The initiative focuses on poor and vulnerable women in Jordan, Egypt and Libya, where current crises are particularly affecting their incomes. It will also aim to reach women and girls in difficult to access rural areas right across the region.

Notes to editors

  1. The UK Government has prioritised supporting women’s economic empowerment as one of the four pillars of the Girls and Women Strategy.
  2. The “Nomou” business fund is designed to support the growth of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) by providing medium-term loans of US$100k - US$2m and business support for participating companies.
  3. The WIEF is running from the 29-31 October at the ExCel in London, this is the ninth such forum and the first ever to be held in Europe. Both the Prime Minister and the Minister of State Alan Duncan are speaking at the event.

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Published 29 October 2013