EBRD, EU support women-led firms in Morocco, with extended support to earthquake areas

€20 million financial package to BMCI with a focus on digitalisation

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the European Union (EU) are joining forces with Banque marocaine pour le commerce et l’industrie (BMCI) to support women-led micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs).

The Bank will provide a senior unsecured loan of up to MAD 220 million (€20 million) to BMCI under the EBRD’s Women in Business programme to support women entrepreneurs and MSMEs.

The programme will include a focus on digitalisation investments, as well as extended support for women-led MSMEs located in the regions affected by the September 2023 earthquake.

The facility will be bolstered by a technical cooperation package funded by the EU. It will help deliver capacity-building and advisory services to women-led MSMEs to support their know-how and entrepreneurial skills development. An additional EU-funded grant will be provided to sub-borrowers as an incentive for investment in digitalisation for women-led MSMEs.

Since it began operating in Morocco, the EBRD has been supporting women-led MSMEs, which remain an under-served segment. Only a limited share of women-owned and -led firms have access to banking loans. This facility will foster the economic inclusion of women, which remains low: only 21 per cent of women in Morocco participate in the labour force and only around 13 per cent of the country’s businesses are owned or led by women.

This investment is the EBRD’s fifth partnership with BMCI. It will help BMCI improve its current business model, accelerate its digital transformation and enhance practices to better engage with women-led MSMEs and meet their financial needs.

As part of the EBRD’s response to the Al Haouz earthquake, the Bank’s Shareholder Special Fund will fund first-loss cover specifically for women-led MSMEs in the affected regions. This is one of the first transactions under the Bank’s initial response package of up to €250 million for 2023 to 2025, announced last month, to rebuild Morocco’s economy in the earthquake-hit regions.

It will allow the Bank to provide a quick response to the aftermath of the earthquake while remaining fully in line with its main objective to promote women’s entrepreneurship in Morocco, as women are among the populations most affected by the event.

BMCI is a universal bank operating in Morocco since 1943. It is a 66.7 per cent subsidiary of BNP Paribas. Its other shareholders include AXA (8.9 per cent) and AtlantaSanad (8.4 per cent) and it has a free float corresponding to about 16 per cent of the bank’s shares.

Morocco is a founding member of the EBRD and?became a beneficiary of Bank resources in 2012. To date, the EBRD has invested €4.3 billion in the country through 96 projects.

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