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With a growing population of which more than 70 percent is under the age of 30, and one of the highest unemployment rates in the world, economic growth and financial inclusion is high on the priority list of the Palestinian authorities.
Vitas Palestine (a micro finance institution), the European Commission, the European Union Delegation and FMO – are working together to address the needs of youth- and women-run small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with a USD 10 mln portfolio guarantee and Technical Assistance program.
The guarantee is part of the NASIRA programme, a risk-sharing facility for local financial institutions supported by the European Union (European Fund for Sustainable Development, EFSD) and MASSIF, the financial inclusion fund FMO manages on behalf of the Dutch government. It is a new way of unlocking support to underserved segments, specifically young, female, migrant, and COVID-19-affected entrepreneurs. These groups often remain underbanked due to high risks - both perceived and real involving absence of collateral and credit history, among others. The NASIRA guarantee programme takes away this hurdle by agreeing in advance to share possible credit losses.
In a video made by the Palestinian Media Group, Sven Kuehn von Burgsdorff, head of the EU delegation to West Bank and Gaza Strip, Alaa Sesalem, executive director at Vitas Palestina and Huib-Jan de Ruijter, FMO’s Chief Investment Officer, explain more about the Nasira program and the key constraints the entrepreneurs in Gaza face.
The agreement between FMO and Vitas Palestine was signed in the presence of the European Union Representative Sven Kühn von Burgsdorff, Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority H.E. Dr. Mohammad Shtayyeh and the Minister of National Economy H.E. Khaled al Ossaily, during the very first joint Business Forum on the margins of the 4th official meeting of the EU – Palestine Investment Platform.
During the event, five financing agreements worth EUR 81.65 million were signed. The event also showcased seven high visibility investments financed by Team Europe and six investment opportunities of the National Investment Roadmap were pitched.
"With the launching of the EU-Palestine Business Forum, we want to consolidate, renew and reinforce our commitment towards making Palestine a more attractive place for local, European and other international investors. I am confident that this Forum will make a strong contribution to improve the investment climate, enhance the Palestinian economy and build a stronger partnership between Europe and Palestine," said the European Union Representative Sven Kühn von Burgsdorff.
The new Business Forum will help expand the engagement of the private sector in the workings of the Platform, it will offer the business community a forum to engage with policy makers on strategic priorities and policies for investment, to learn about prospective investment opportunities and available financing possibilities.
“Having the Business community included in the EU–Palestine Investment Platform is essential and timely and has been our goal since the beginning. The future of our economy depends on a vibrant private sector and creative partnerships with European and international businesses,” said the Prime Minister H.E. Dr. Mohammad Shtayyeh.