Egypt Loan Guaranty Program and Women's Business Training Succeeds during Pandemic 


In February 2020, CHF Egypt's Women in Business Capacity Building Training Initiative had made an energetic start for the year, with more than 2,000 graduates from its financial and banking workshops held all over Egypt. Twelve existing and new training partner organizations were ready to help CHF Egypt meet its goal of providing financial training for 6,000 women who own, or want to start, micro and small enterprises.

Likewise, CHF Egypt's Loan Guaranty Program (ELGF), which began in 2013 to help small- and medium-sized enterprises access financing by providing loan guarantees to local partner banks, was eager to continue its work with more Egyptian businesses.

However, the COVID-19 pandemic hit Egypt in early 2020 as suddenly and unexpectedly as it did the rest of the world. CHF Egypt staff had to work from home, could not travel to meet directly with clients, and the business training project could not hold its popular workshops in person.


Photo by CHF Management and Consulting Services Egypt S.A.E 

In May, a survey of clients showed the severe impact of the pandemic. Over two-thirds were temporarily or permanently closed, and the same number said lack of demand and the curfew imposed to halt the spread of disease caused the most financial harm. Over half lost employees due to fear of infection and had to cut production.

The Egypt Loan Guaranty Program worked with lenders to give businesses a 180-day grace period on their loans. The program, which is funded by the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation, guarantees up to 70% of the loan to a small- or mid-sized entrepreneur will be paid back to the Egyptian bank partners.

A key part of CHF Egypt's mission is to support women entrepreneurs through more favorable loan guarantees and business and financial training. While there was little they could do about the economy, CHF Egypt saw a way to make sure women still benefited from training and were ready for a post-COVID economy.

The CHF-Egypt Loan Guaranty Program team held virtual meetups with training partner organizations so the Women in Business Capacity Building Training Initiative could be held online. By the end of December, they had conducted 172 financial workshops across Egypt with 3,449 participants, including 2,867 women. To help entrepreneurs survive COVID, marketing, financial management and business networking skills were added to the classes.


In October, 28 clients attended the first in-person workshop held since COVID-19 appeared. By the end of the year, preparations were underway to move entirely back to in-person training, while following guidelines for health protection. With this kind of dedicated training and support, business owners like Noha Yahia can grow their companies and create new jobs.

Noha started Notre Art for Furniture in a small, rented workshop in Gesr Al Suez and sold mainly to family and friends. After three years, she expanded her business by buying a four-story, 1,200-square-meter building, where she sold mainly to other businesses. Now, she sells her products directly to consumers, and opened another branch in Mohandessin, a busy shopping area in Giza, and moved the factory to a 4,000-square-meter space in Obour city, a manufacturing area in the Cairo suburbs. Notre Art is now participating in national exhibitions and exports to countries around the region.


Photo by CHF Management and Consulting Services Egypt S.A.E 


The Egypt Loan Guaranty Facility was established in 2012 to support $250 million in loans to small- and medium-sized enterprises, and, to provide technical assistance and training to partner banks.

By the end of 2020, guarantees were issued for more than 700 loans with a value of more than $230 million. A total of 3,412 jobs were created and 14,757 jobs were retained.

One of these new successes is the Al Mostakbal School (Generation of the Future School), opened in upper Egypt in 2008 by four Egyptian women whose goal is to expand educational opportunities in the region. They applied for the equivalent of about $1.5 million to build a second school in New Suhag for 600 students and 250 new employees. Their first school has the capacity for 3,000 students and 403 employees.


financial workshops across Egypt supported 3,449 entrepreneurs, including 2,867 women.

Story by Jackie Frank