Egypt Development Marketplace: Transforming Agribusiness and Handicrafts into Engines of Employment | World Bank Institute (WBI)

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STORY HIGHLIGHTS

  • Thirty five organizations were awarded grants of $25,000 by the Egypt Development Marketplace (DM) on June 17.
  • The program awarded a total of $800,000. The grantees will also receive technical assistance and advisory support from the World Bank Group and several local and international partners to scale up their innovative business model and generate employment.
  • The two sectors of focus for the Egypt DM program is nearly evenly divided between the agribusiness and the handicrafts sectors.
     
(c) World Bank

June 24, 2013—Egypt’s desert dunes are a flourishing home to fig and olive groves. Quite often farmers find it hard to sell their produce in a timely manner or get the best price for it. This is where the social enterprise Cubes Contracting comes in, providing technical and logistical support for farmers to get their produce to Cairo and large urban centers. This creates new jobs as well as opens markets to a segment of the population that do not always have access to it.

Akhmim, is a large town on the Upper East side of the Nile and is known for its weekly market featuring textiles. The Egyptian Society for Folk Tradition is another social enterprise that is training women to weave silk according to ancient ways using modern methods. Thus, helping them get jobs and increase their income while reviving a traditional Egyptian industry.

Cubes Contracting and the Egyptian Society for Folk Tradition are just two out of 35 organizations that were awarded grants of $25,000 by the Egypt Development Marketplace (DM) on June 17. The selected organizations’ focus is nearly evenly divided between the agribusiness and the handicrafts sectors; the two focus sectors of the Egypt DM program. The program awarded a total of $875,000. The grantees will also receive technical assistance and advisory support from the World Bank Group and several local and international partners to scale up their innovative business model and generate employment.

Egypt has undergone dramatic changes since the Spring of 2011 and elections held in June 2012. However, Egypt’s economy is still suffering from a downturn and the government and its people are facing many challenges to restore growth and promote jobs in the country.
“Winning the award is great, but the networking and synergies are greater,” said Zeiad Amer from Cubes Contracting at the award ceremony. The grantees received their award at an event in Cairo also attended by more than 150 participants representing financial institutions, social entrepreneurs, investors, development organizations, and government officials. The 35 organizations have inspiring business models adding value in activities ranging from tomato paste production to carpet weaving.

“The World Bank Group is committed to promoting an inclusive growth model and create an enabling environment for rural organizations to thrive and create jobs in the remote regions and villages of Egypt where poverty is acute,” said Hartwig Schafer, World Bank Country Director for Egypt, Yemen and Djibouti.

The Competition Process

The Development Marketplace call for proposals took place from November 2012 to January 2013. The World Bank Development Marketplace team and partners then made public presentations in November 2012 in Aswan, Qena, Minya and Assyut. This was to generate interest in the competition and to encourage organizations operating in the targeted locations to apply. This yielded more than 180 proposals from 170 organizations across Egypt. Priority was given to projects in Upper Egypt where some of the most vulnerable citizens live.

In April 2013, two 4-day capacity building workshops for the 68 finalists were organized in Aswan and Minya, to provide an in-depth, interactive training on business planning, budgeting, social impact monitoring and evaluation, and communication skills. Through a rigorous assessment process including field visits led by the Egypt DM assessors comprising World Bank Group and prominent external experts from partner organizations, the selected organizations were identified.

“Through the Egypt DM initiative, projects with the highest potential for scale, replication, and financial sustainability have been identified for support,” said Ehaab Abdou, Egypt Development Marketplace, Team Leader. “In addition to grants, the DM provides the opportunity to understand what works – how and under what conditions – in an effort to surface and invest in models that are best positioned to create jobs.”

The International Finance Corporation (IFC) is a key partner for the Egypt Development Marketplace and is playing an important role especially in mobilizing partners such as impact investors as well as leading technical support for all Egypt DM grantees.
“We have long contended that the private sector and civil society can play a key role in building a socially-inclusive economy in Egypt,” said Magdi M. Amin, IFC’s Manager for Investment Climate in the MENA Region. “This competition has proven that the power of entrepreneurship and innovation is there in the Egyptian people, ready to be tapped to address Egypt’s development challenges.”

In addition to the IFC, another key partner is the World Bank’s Financial and Private Sector Development unit which is helping explore and identify opportunities for the program's sustainability by mainstreaming the Egypt DM work with other WB operations. In addition to helping with all phases, their support will continue to be on the impact evaluation of the program with the Egypt DM team.open-quotesThe World Bank Group is committed to promoting an inclusive growth model and create an enabling environment for rural organizations to thrive and create jobs in the remote regions and villages of Egypt where poverty is acute.close-quotesHartwig Schafer, World Bank Country Director for Egypt, Yemen and Djibouti
The Development Marketplace is a competitive grants program seeking to support scalable, replicable social enterprise projects with the potential for significantly improving lives and access to basic goods and services for underserved poor communities. Projects that demonstrate appreciable impact in these areas are provided financial assistance, backed by strong need-based technical assistance in order that they may scale and/or replicate their efforts. Since its inception in 1998, it has awarded more than $60 million in grants to more than 1200 innovative projects identified through country, regional and global competitions. It is currently housed in the World Bank Institute’s Innovation Department.

“The DM provides a platform that supports high performing social enterprises and inclusive business models go to scale and increase their capacity to reach disenfranchised communities with basic and essential goods and services," said Drew von Glahn, Team Leader of the Development Marketplace.

In addition a range of partners will continue to provide strategic guidance to the program and technical support to the selected organizations to improve the livelihoods for those who need it most in Upper Egypt.

 
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