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22 . 09 . 2016
IFC, AFD, Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women, and BLC Bank Support Small and Medium Enterprises in Lebanon

IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, the Agence Francaise de Developpement (AFD), and the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women initiative are partnering with BLC Bank to support smaller businesses in Lebanon, including those run by women.


IFC and AFD, through a risk-sharing facility, will jointly guarantee $5 million in smaller business loans granted by BLC Bank, a market pioneer in providing services to female borrowers. The initiative is expected to spur $10 million in lending to small and medium enterprises (SMEs), helping these firms, which form the backbone of the local economy, to expand and create jobs. About 20 percent of the loans covered by the new risk-sharing facility will be earmarked for women-owned SMEs, almost three-quarters of which are underserved by the banking sector. BLC Bank is the first bank to benefit from the MENA SME Risk Sharing Facility with special focus on serving women-owned and women-run enterprises.


“Small and medium enterprises among which the growing number of women owned business are the engine of the Lebanese economy. This is why our Bank implemented an exhaustive range of products and services aiming at supporting them” said Maurice Sehnaoui, Chairman and General Manager of BLC Bank.


Nadim Kassar, Deputy Chairman and General Manager of the bank, said, “This agreement will help us reach out to a greater number of those businesses, and lay the groundwork for sustainable growth.”


Mouayed Makhlouf, IFC Director for the Middle East and North Africa, said, “Creating an ecosystem that can support SMEs, especially those owned by women, in Lebanon, and the region, is a necessity. We hope that with this investment we can demonstrate that lending to SMEs is a profitable business.”


Lionel Cafferini, AFD Country Director for Lebanon said, “The risk-sharing facility is part of our efforts to support the Lebanese economy, and the SME sector in particular. AFD has been supporting SMEs in Lebanon since 2007 through lines of credit to commercial banks. That is part of a long-term push to create a sustainable banking industry and strengthen Lebanon's private sector.”


The risk-sharing facility was also supported by the Women Entrepreneurs Opportunity Facility. The latter was launched in 2014 by IFC and the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women initiative to radically expand access to finance for female-owned businesses. Since the facility was launched in 2014, it has made over $600 million in commitments to banks in 17 countries, increasing lending to women entrepreneurs.


Lisa MacDougall, Vice President and Global Head of Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women, said, “Access to capital is a major obstacle to growth for women entrepreneurs. Goldman Sachs research shows that closing this gender credit gap could increase per capita income by around 12 percent in emerging markets by 2030. This commitment to BLC Bank will place more capital in the hands of women entrepreneurs in Lebanon who will drive future economic growth and job creation.”


BLC Bank has gained international recognition for its outreach to SMEs and women entrepreneurs. It was the first bank from the Middle East and North Africa to sign the UN Women Empowerment Principals and the first to join the Global Banking Alliance for Women. Through its multiple-award-winning Women Empowerment (WE) Initiative, launched in 2012, it offers services specially tailored to female borrowers.