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IFC Conferences on Small and Medium Enterprise Finance Launched in Morocco


In Washington:
Ahmed Badawi-Malik

Phone:  (202) 458-7148

Fax:      (202) 974-4384

Email
:  Abadawi@ifc.org

In Rabat:

Joumana Cobein

Phone: (212) 3765-2479

Fax :    (212) 3765-2893

Email:
jcobein@ifc.org


RABAT/WASHINGTON D.C., April 8, 2004— The North Africa Enterprise Development (NAED), a regional small and medium enterprise business development facility program managed by the International Finance Corporation, has convened the first of five planned conferences in Rabat on best practices, international experiences and methods to increase access to finance for small and medium enterprises in Morocco.

The series of conferences reflect the joint efforts of NAED’s and the Central Bank of Morocco to improve the local environment for SME lending. NAED signed a partnership agreement with the central bank in March 2004 to look at the possibility of creating a database for the financial statements of companies, addressing a major barrier to higher bank lending: issues of transparency and the dearth of reliable information about SME creditworthiness.


IFC, the private sector arm of the World Bank Group, held the first conference, “Making SME Finance Profitable”, on April 2 in partnership with the central bank. Some 170 participants from Morocco and Algeria, ranging from financial sector representatives, government officials, and representatives of Morocco’s donors, attended the conference, which was held under the patronage of H.E Abdellatif Jouahri, the central bank governor. The conference addressed topics such as SME marketing strategies, credit scoring and rating and other risk management practices, debt collection systems and product development, and included success stories on stimulating finance for SMEs in other emerging countries and industrialized states.


A further four conferences on SME finance will be convened in Morocco by NAED, and will also include participants from commercial banks and senior government officials drawn from the kingdom’s other neighboring countries –Tunisia and Mauritania.


NAED (
www.ifc.org/sme) is the first small business development facility in the Middle East and North Africa region and is managed from IFC’s headquarters in Cairo, with IFC offices in Algiers and Rabat as well. It is a five-year $20 million technical assistance program for small businesses, co-funded by IFC and donor countries, including Belgium, France, Italy, and Switzerland. NAED’s key objective is to foster job creation by supporting the development of small businesses in Egypt, Algeria, and Morocco - the bedrock of all those countries’ economies. Helping financial institution put in place the right products and practices to encourage greater access to credit for SMEs is the main focus of NAED.

The mission of IFC (
www.ifc.org) is to promote sustainable private sector investment in developing countries, helping to reduce poverty and improve people's lives. IFC finances private sector investments in the developing world, mobilizes capital in the international financial markets, helps clients improve social and environmental sustainability, and provides technical assistance and advice to governments and businesses. From its founding in 1956 through FY03, IFC has committed more than $37 billion of its own funds and arranged $22 billion in syndications for 2,990 companies in 140 developing countries. IFC's worldwide committed portfolio as of FY03 was $16.8 billion for its own account and $6.6 billion held for participants in loan syndications.