This reflects keenness of the government and the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) to achieve sustainable development for this vital sector, said chairman of the Federation of Egyptian Banks (FEB) Mohamed el Etreby Sunday.

Addressing a conference on the future of SMEs, which is organized by the Union of Arab Banks (UAB) under the auspices of the CBE, Etreby put the number of small, medium and micro-sized enterprises at more than three million.

Cairo has shown an early interest in supporting this sector, Etreby acknowledged, noting that this started even before the coronavirus pandemic.

He cited funding initiatives that were launched by the CBE, as well as a strategy outlined by the National Payments Council to encourage digital transformation and financial inclusion of this sector.

Indeed, measures taken by the government and the CBE have given the SME sector a shot in the arm, pushing up its volume from an atrophied 14 percent in 2014 to a whopping 51 percent in 2021, Etreby made it clear.

In 2016, the CBE launched an initiative to support SMEs, obliging banks to allocate 20 percent of their credit portfolios for those projects, the chairman of the FEB said. He added that that allocation increased to 25 percent last year.

Etreby underscored the big role played by SMEs to create jobs for youth and eliminate unemployment. Such enterprises do help increase exports and secure products for the local market, he added.

Supporting SMEs is one way to help the informal economy go formal, he noted.

The FEB chairman told the conference that Egypt is seeking to create some 600 million jobs by 2030, stressing that the SME sector will play the biggest role to achieve that plan.