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Economic Growth and Trade

Overview

Woman works at sewing machine in small clothing factory
This woman receives literacy training after work at this clothing factory as part of USAID's efforts to strengthen small and medium enterprises in Egypt.
USAID/Julie Fossler

For nearly four decades, USAID has supported Egypt’s transformation to a more market-oriented economy, largely through the provision of technical assistance to the private sector and the government of Egypt. USAID has assisted the government to improve its tax system, increase public revenue, improve customs and reduce barriers to trade, reduce red tape and improve business services, and develop strategies that increase investment in Egyptian industries. 

USAID has assisted the private sector to gain access to finance, train workers, improve product quality, and trade its goods across borders. Since 2011, USAID has intensified its commitment to assist the Egyptian economy to become both more competitive and more inclusive so that growth benefits all Egyptians equitably. This is being achieved through targeted assistance to job-creating sectors such as agriculture and tourism; support for micro, small, and medium sized enterprises (MSMEs); continued efforts to strengthen the environment for trade and investment; and ensuring that women are better integrated into the economy. Such an approach has the proven potential to generate jobs and income as well as reduce poverty

Goals

USAID partners with Egyptian counterparts to:

  • Improve the environment for doing business in Egypt.
  • Elevate the skills and employability of workers, particularly women and youth, through vocational education and training.
  • Improve Egypt’s finances and increase budget transparency.
  • Increase the volume and value of Egypt’s exports.
  • Grow micro, small and medium sized private businesses in Egypt

Project Areas

Trade and Customs Programs:  USAID has helped reduce impediments to trade in Egypt. USAID has supported the Egyptian Customs Authority to streamline customs procedures and simplify and reduce tariff rates and has assisted in establishing a Trade-Related Assistance Center for exporters. As a result of these efforts, the time for goods to clear customs in major ports was reduced over the last four years from 22 days to 9 days and tariff rates were simplified. Egypt also became a signatory of the Kyoto Convention, ensuring its customs procedures comply with international standards. USAID continues work to improve trade facilitation measures and strengthen domestic markets.

USAID is working directly with SMEs to promote their exports in selected sectors, leading to investment promotion and job creation. Activities will build the exporting capacities for nineteen selected SMEs through coaching, training, and tailored technical assistance. This has resulted in expanded export sales, new buyers in new markets, and wider buyer contacts and networks. The project has supported SMEs to attend eight trade shows in the U.S., the Middle East, Asia, and Europe. After one year, results to date include $1.4 million in reported sales orders and $5 million more in projected sales to come as a direct result of USAID assistance.

Policy and Financial Reform:  USAID has strengthened the Egyptian Competition Authority’s ability to monitor business practices in the market and ensure a level playing field. USAID helped develop the mortgage market that is enabling Egyptians to finance homes, supported the creation of a non-bank financial regulator to ensure that these markets run efficiently, and supported the creation of the first credit bureau, I-Score, which will facilitate bank lending. Additionally, with USAID assistance, the Egyptian government is now able to electronically catalog the laws and regulations of 12 ministries, and has eliminated over 8,000 decrees that impeded businesses. To improve financial skills, USAID helped the Egyptian Banking Institute earn five-year accreditation of training programs offered to bankers and financial regulators.

Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprise Programs:  USAID has mobilized prominent business leaders and leading financial institutions to oversee the delivery of credit and business services to low-income entrepreneurs. More than    1.1 million borrowers have benefited from programs and over 65 % of current borrowers are poor, female heads of household who receive micro loans to run small, often home-based businesses. Over the past two years, USAID provided grants to international and local organizations to help create jobs and provide training, particularly for youth and women. More than 10,000 people were trained and 15,000 found jobs. USAID also supports improving business development services for MSMEs, in part by creating business support units in private associations and localities and partnering with the Social Fund for Development to provide improved services. Hundreds of MSMEs have been better able to export and/or access bank finance with our assistance.

Education Initiatives:  USAID contributes to increased educational opportunities for current and future Egyptian leaders and managers by sponsoring partnerships between Egyptian and American universities to develop degree programs in the business, economic, and legal education fields that satisfy the needs of the Egyptian economy. USAID also contributes to workforce development by upgrading the capacity of technical schools in the food processing, ready-made garments, and tourism sectors. USAID trained 9,000 technical school instructors (65% women) on innovative ways of providing market-driven skills to thousands of students who have gained competencies needed by the market. Employment  units at 25 technical schools throughout Egypt are sponsoring job fairs to connect job seekers with businesses that are recruiting employees – to date, this program has helped more than 6,400 graduates (40% women) obtain long term employment.

Entrepreneurship:  USAID helps to start, grow, and increase access to finance for promising, innovative entrepreneurs by supporting a variety of events ranging from mentoring opportunities to competitions among young entrepreneurs to identify the best and most innovative business ideas. USAID sponsored a mentorship training program for entrepreneurs and several awareness sessions in universities to promote entrepreneurship among youths. Training and inspiring more than 12,000 entrepreneurs has led to the launch of 149 innovative companies – 58 of which have received seed capital and/or outside investment. To improve access to finance, USAID is creating networks of individual investors that are willing to take risks to support new ideas. 

Impact

  • Helped over 65,000 Egyptians, including 14,000 women, find new or better jobs since 2011.

  • Trained and inspired more than 12,000 aspiring entrepreneurs, which has led to the launch of 149 innovative companies that are generating new jobs.

  • One-stop shops for business registration have reduced the time to formalize a small business by 60% – allowing business owners to quickly start their businesses, generate profits, create jobs, and contribute to the economy.

  • Upgraded 17 vocational training centers in six governorates throughout Egypt to improve worker readiness for private sector jobs.

Last updated: August 17, 2015

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