The European Bank for Reconstruction & Development (EBRD) announced Wednesday the extension of its program “Women in Business” in Morocco to the region of Tangier, Tétouan-Al Hoceima and Oriental in the north of the country.
The region has a high concentration of women-led businesses in the medical, retail and service sectors. The expansion of the EBRD, which was launched in the country last year, will provide female entrepreneurs with access to finance, advisory services and trainings.
The EBRD’s Women in Business program receives important support from the European Union under the EU Initiative for Financial Inclusion which is delivering crucial funding for guarantees to EBRD partner banks and advisory services for banks and women entrepreneurs.
Marking the beginning of the implementation phase of the program in Tangier, EBRD Director for Morocco, Marie-Alexandra Veilleux-Laborie, said: “This program has the potential to make a major impact in Morocco. Currently, only 50 pc of women-led firms use a bank account and even those who do are often unable to use the full range of what banks have to offer”.
This regional outreach program will “empower female entrepreneurs by helping women get access to finance and know-how”, she stressed.
In an introductory phase in Morocco, the EBRD is providing the equivalent of a total of €35 million in local currency to BMCE Bank of Africa and BMCI (Banque marocaine pour le commerce et l’industrie) to support women-led small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) from across the country. The EBRD has signed a €20 million loan with BMCE and a €15 million loan with BMCI.
Other banks are expected to join the initiative nationwide. The program aims to reach at least 200 women entrepreneurs in Morocco in its initial phase through financing and advisory services.
In addition to financing, women entrepreneurs receive business advice to make their businesses more competitive, as well as training, mentoring and network-building services, and also access to the EBRD’s online self-diagnostic, Business Lens. The training and mentoring allow women entrepreneurs to share experiences and learn from each other.
The EBRD started investing in Morocco in 2012. To date, the Bank has financed 50 projects worth €1.7 billion in the country and provided over 550 Moroccan SMEs with business advice.