x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

$150m aid granted for SMEs

Arab Spring economies: The US government's finance arm, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, will pump $150 million into a small and medium enterprise fund run by Abraaj Capital, the private equity outfit.

The US government's finance arm, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (Opic), will pump US$150 million into a small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) fund run by Abraaj Capital, the private equity outfit.

Opic's investment will go into a $400m (Dh1.46m) Riyada Enterprise Development Growth Capital Fund already set up by Abraaj's small and medium-sized investment arm, Aureos Capital, Abraaj said.

The Riyada fund will invest in SMEs across the region but Egypt will be the main target.

Opic and Abraaj signed the deal in Cairo on Sunday as a delegation of senior US officials and business executives visited Egypt.

The investment was initially approved in 2010 after a speech in Cairo by the US president Barack Obama in which he pledged to invest in the development of Arab countries.

Mustafa Abdel-Wadood, Abraaj's chief executive, said the SME segment "continues to suffer from a dearth of capital" and was critical for the economy and job creation.

US officials said USAid, the state department's international development arm, would soon disburse grants to Egypt to conduct a feasibility study for a data centre, improve Cairo international airport and bolster the country's online transaction capabilities.

business@thenational.ae