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Social entrepreneurship and microfinance in MENA - Just Means October 2011

Social entrepreneurs are those who contribute in finding solutions to social, environmental or development problems to help improving quality of life for their clients and to strengthen the society. In the Middle East, social enterprise is active in a variety of sectors and industries. A great impact is being done by social entrepreneurs on the lives of people through initiatives taken on several issues such as education, employment and microenterprise.

In the Middle East, youth unemployment stays on the rise. For instance in Egypt, 90% of unemployed people in the country is below thirty years old. If social entrepreneurship is encouraged and there is a growth of small businesses, there will definitely be acceleration in the economic growth and there will be more jobs created. Global Communities which was previously known as CHF international, is the largest global microfinance network which is giving a great helping hand in the Middle East. It has provided more than 620 million dollars microfinance loans since 2004, which has helped in the creation of half a million jobs in the region. Global Communities has more than 680 staff members and 55,000 clients who are of Arab origin with a portfolio of 157 million dollars which is concentrated in Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, West Bank and Gaza.

For Zeinab in Egypt, microfinance was the solution to her problems and the survival of her family when her husband fell ill. She started her business making wooden pots, crafts and kitchen supplies when she contracted her first loan of 46 US dollars. With determination she worked and now, she runs her own workshop at home itself together with three of her children. Zeinab’s most recent loan amounted to 735 US dollars, an amount that makes her grin with pride as it is more than any government officer can get in two months.

Social objectives assigned to microfinance institutions, is a challenge. These institutions also known as “banks for the poor”, is seen as one of the tools to reduce poverty in the Middle East. With the help of microfinance institutions, people can earn more and thus protect themselves better against unexpected losses and setbacks. They can also plan a future and move beyond a day-to-day survival. They can invest in nutrition, housing, health and education for their children. Through microfinance, they can create productive businesses and make progress towards breaking the vicious cycle of poverty and vulnerability.

Social entrepreneurship through microfinance institutions contribute in helping poor people to have continuous and permanent access to strong, stable financial system in order to build their family’s economic security. It is a way to extend the same rights and services that are provided to those who are eligible, to low-income families. Thus it allows majority of the population to form part of the country’s economy.

Thepartnership betweenPi Slice, and MicroWorld answers to this demand and is a powerful tool in the fight against poverty.

Source: Just Means and Grameen foundation/>

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