By Nibal Zgheib
The EBRD is providing a loan of up to US$ 2 million in local currency to the Microfund for Women (MFW) for on-lending to female entrepreneurs in Jordan.
Access to finance through banks remains extremely limited for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) in Jordan, a country that is also particularly exposed to the crisis caused by the civil war in neighbouring Syria, with refugees currently representing 20 per cent of Jordan’s population.
The EBRD funds will offer much-needed support for MSMEs and contribute to greater financial inclusion and more employment opportunities for women and people living in less-advantaged regions. Donor-funded support will specifically address the needs of refugees who want to start businesses.
MFW is the largest microfinance institution (MFI) in Jordan and an important contributor to the development of entrepreneurship among women and to support for refugees. Since 2016, the Fund has extended loans to refugees in Jordan who do not have access to other MFIs in the country.
Technical cooperation funds provided to MFW by the EBRD Southern and Eastern Mediterranean Multi-Donor Account and the EBRD Shareholder Special Fund will strengthen institutional and skill development in lending to refugees.
Alain Pilloux, Vice President, Banking at the EBRD, said: “We are very pleased to team up again with MFW in support of women entrepreneurs and Syrian refugees. This investment is the first to a financial institution under the EBRD’s response to the refugee crisis and we hope it will promote lending to refugees and contribute to greater financial inclusion and job opportunities.”
Muna Sukhtian, MFW Managing Director, said: “As part of our financial inclusion strategy we are pleased to expand our financial opportunities for Syrian women refugees to achieve economic self-reliance. We have included our financial and non-financial services such as training, awareness and market linkages. We thank the EBRD for its continued support and its major role in empowering women in Jordan.”
Jordan became an EBRD shareholder in 2012 and to date the Bank has committed close to US$ 1 billion across 35 projects in various sectors of the economy, in addition to US$ 180 million of trade-facilitation credit lines with local banks.
MFW is a privately owned, non-profit MFI registered in Jordan. It is the largest in the country by the number of clients (34 per cent market share) and the largest by gross loan portfolio (28 per cent market share), with total assets of US$ 103.8 million. MFW currently serves 137,903 clients, of whom 2,496 are active borrowers from the refugee community, through 58 branches, 40 of which are located outside Amman.