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IFC Supports Sustainable Development of the Siwa Oasis in Egypt


In Washington
Ann Pasco

Phone: +1 (202) 473-9167

Mobile: +1 (202) 294-4701


Email:
Apasco@ifc.org


Cairo, September 21, 2005—The International Finance Corporation, the private sector arm of the World Bank Group, will provide an $880,000 loan and $468,000 technical assistance grant to Environmental Quality International (EQI), a consulting company that has been privately investing in Egypt’s Siwa oasis since 1997. EQI will match IFC funds with an additional $573,000 in private investment. The funds will be used to implement an integrated program for sustainable development, in consultation with the local community, to support investments in ecotourism, women’s artisanship, sustainable agriculture, and renewable energy.

The initiative seeks to bring social and economic benefits to the indigenous community while preserving the delicate environmental and cultural balance of the Siwa ecosystem. It seeks to empower the indigenous population, foster entrepreneurship, and market the area’s unique biodiversity, historical, and cultural heritage to the outside world.  Commenting on the project, Rachel Kyte, IFC’s Director of Environment and Social Development, stated, “The Siwa initiative is important, as it enables the local people to create economic opportunities for themselves while restoring the physical environment, promoting gender equity, and marketing local products to the international market, helping position Siwa on the global stage.”

Jesper Kjaer, General Manager of IFC’s Private Enterprise Partnership for the Middle East and North Africa, noted, “This project clearly demonstrates how collaboration among donors, private sector companies, and local communities can make robust contributions to development.  IFC, EQI, and other international organizations have come together to collaborate with the Siwan community.  This initiative promotes sustainable development in a manner that is replicable and that has a potential to be scaled up.”

Mounir Neamatalla, President of EQI, added, “The idea was always to have ecobusiness activities that were profitable for us and for the local community. And if you have good ideas, it’s inevitable that you’ll have successful and profitable ventures.”

Founded in 1981, EQI is a partnership company incorporated in Egypt with affiliate companies in the United States and United Kingdom.  It has about 200 employees and has implemented major projects across the Middle East and North Africa. EQI specializes in providing services in environment and natural resources, governance, and enterprise development.

The International Finance Corporation, the private sector arm of the World Bank Group, promotes sustainable private sector investment in developing and transition countries, helping to reduce poverty and improve people’s lives. IFC finances private sector investments, mobilizes capital in the international financial markets, helps clients improve social and environmental sustainability, and provides technical assistance and advice to governments and businesses. Its 178 member countries provide its share capital and collectively determine its policies.

PEP-MENA is IFC’s technical assistance facility supporting private sector development in the Middle East and North Africa.  It focuses on improving the business-enabling and regulatory environment in the region; strengthening the financial sector; promoting the growth of small and medium enterprises and their support services, such as business organizations and consulting firms; helping restructure and privatize state-owned enterprises; and developing viable private sector and public-private partnership projects, especially in infrastructure.

From its founding in 1956 through FY05, IFC has committed more than $49 billion of its own funds and arranged $24 billion in syndications for 3,319 companies in 140 developing countries. IFC’s worldwide committed portfolio as of FY05 was $19.3 billion for its own account and $5.3 billion held for participants in loan syndications.  For more information, visit
www.ifc.org.