Press Releases

IFC-Backed Report Supports Entrepreneurship in MENA

In Cairo:
Riham Mustafa

Phone: +(202) 2461-4230


Cairo, Egypt, September 1, 2015— A new IFC-supported report by Wamda Research Lab finds that although support for entrepreneurs and start-ups has grown substantially across the Middle East and North Africa, many challenges remain, hindering job creation and economic growth.  

Exploring Conditions for Entrepreneurs in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, and UAE Wamda surveyed nearly 500 entrepreneurs from the four countries, which have seen the majority of entrepreneurship development initiatives in the region. Published in partnership with Endeavor Insight and Beirut Digital District, the report looks at the main trends in entrepreneurship and the challenges entrepreneurs face in growing their businesses.

Jamil Wyne, Head of Wamda Research Lab said: “Our research suggests that more and more players are realizing the economic and social returns that supporting entrepreneurship can have on cities, countries, and the region. Addressing the challenges entrepreneurs face is critical to achieving economic and social development. We hope our work will help investors and policymakers better understand the challenges so they can continue to help the sector grow.”

Access to finance is one of the main challenges cited by entrepreneurs in the report, with 43 percent relying on funding from family and friends, and nearly all relying on personal savings to at least partially fund their companies. The report identifies three other main challenges: generating revenues, finding the right talent, and expanding across borders efficiently.

Mouayed Makhlouf, IFC Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa said: “Fostering a favorable business environment for small businesses and entrepreneurs is one of IFC’s strategic priorities in the region, since they not only drive growth but help bring in innovation, contribute to job creation and increase regional competitiveness.”

The Wamda report also reveals that new funds and investments in entrepreneurial ventures have increased significantly. Over 80 percent of new institutions that support entrepreneurs, created since 2010, have been launched by local MENA stakeholders, with over 60 percent of these created in Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates.

The initiative is part of IFC's wider strategy in the region that aims to support small businesses, encourage entrepreneurship, expand access to finance, and create jobs. In February 2015, IFC invested $10 million in a venture fund created by Wamda Capital, a sister company, to provide funding to tech entrepreneurs in MENA. Such support is considered vital in a region where smaller businesses often struggle to tap into expertise and secure the financing they need to grow.

About IFC

IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, is the largest global development institution focused on the private sector in emerging markets. Working with more than 2,000 businesses worldwide, we use our capital, expertise, and influence, to create opportunity where it’s needed most. In FY15, our long-term investments in developing countries rose to nearly $18 billion, helping the private sector play an essential role in the global effort to end extreme poverty and boost shared prosperity. For more information, visit

About Wamda Research Lab  

Wamda Research Lab is Wamda’s research program that produces studies on entrepreneurship in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) and seeks to foster thought leadership in this field. Its agenda is to inform investors, policymakers, and other stakeholders on barriers to and solutions for developing entrepreneurship in MENA.

About Endeavor Insight

Endeavor Insight is Endeavor’s research arm and studies high-impact entrepreneurs and their contribution to job creation and economic growth. Along with the Kauffman Foundation and the

World Bank, Endeavor Insight is a founding member of the Global Entrepreneurship Research

Network (GERN). Its research educates policy makers and practitioners and helps them to accelerate entrepreneurs’ success and the development of entrepreneurship ecosystems around the world.

About Beirut Digital District (BDD)

BDD is a hub for the digital and creative industries in Lebanon. BDD provides a state of the art business environment, value-added services and infrastructure so that companies can increase their productivity and grow. BDD also offers a healthy living environment where this young and dynamic workforce can work and live with their families.

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