CAIRO – 27 November 2023: The Ministry of Social Solidarity held Monday a conference on social investment to raise awareness on the concept of the sustainability of social services.
Minister Nevine al-Qabaj underscored the necessity of not just counting on donations but also the investment of resources to ensure sustainable revenues. " It’s okay for the civil society to make profit," she noted.
In that pursuit, the ministry partnered with a company to upgrade a training center to produce school bags. "We work on privatizing parts of the services offered at the ministry's facilities such as the dorms of university students, and various centers," Minister Qabbaj stated.
Speaking of resources that can be invested, Minister’s Assistant for Civil Society Ayman Abdel Mawgoud noted that the Egyptian civil society received in 2022 financing worth $2 billion from abroad and LE7 billion locally.
In a related context, Deputy Chairman of the General Authority for Financial Control Islam Azzam showcased that there are many public funds that can be leveraged in financing social projects and infrastructure.
Chairman of the Egyptian Exchange (EGX) Ahmed El Sheikh stated that sustainability indexes were introduced in EGX in 2010, and that 30 out of 100 companies enrolled in the exchange make up such indexes. The role EGX can play in regard of social investment is directing those companies to invest in projects of priority.
Another type of cooperation between the ministry and those firms is possible as the former can provide trained workers. Also, workers at those companies can be trained at the ministry’s training centers. The firms can also be encouraged to adopt circular economy models.
Financing Job Creation
With regard to microfinancing, Minister Qabbaj highlighted the salience of holding partnerships with successful investors, conducting feasibility studies for enterprises to be financed, and devising a selection mechanism of enterprises that will be financed.
The ministry is launching workshops in rural villages to fulfill local needs and export. "They have to work in a specific system so they would make orders ready in time," the minister pointed out. That is why the ministry is implementing the concept of clusters so as each would be specialized in a specific industry such as home accessories, garments, food processing, herding, etc.
"Farmers are now buying bread among other goods they used to make themselves so we are reviving the concepts of productivity and self-sufficiency," Minister Qabbaj clarified adding that soon investors will be able to buy stocks in clusters. To further ensure the sustainability of those activities, an environmental index was launched in collaboration with the UNDP and the Ministry of Environment.
Equally, to encourage self-employment and job creation, the ministry is implementing the "Productive Student" programme which disburses grants to university students, and then, gives them soft loans, if their enterprises do well.
Chairman of the Anti-Addiction Fund Amr Othman suggested that there is a need for entire supply chains run and operated by former drug users. He highlighted that the addiction rate among Egyptians aged between 15 and 60 is 2.4 percent. Yet, 170,000, mostly aged between 31-40, seek treatment annually. Over 50 percent of those are jobless, while 70 percent search for jobs after treatment.
The fund offers its services free of charge, and has delivered vocational training to 14,000 recovered individuals. Othman showcased that Egypt has the largest rehab in the Middle East, and it is located in Imbaba comprising 250 beds. He added that new rehabs were being built and set up by former drug users.