Dubai-based micro financier lends a helping hand to Arab world's poor

68% of Grameen-Jameel's small loans, ranging from $250 to $3,000, go to women

Grameen-Jameel Microfinance Company has provided $24 million of collateral security to institutions which has helped them lend $56 million in loans to small businesses in several countries, according to Dr. Khaled Al Ghazzawi, General Manager.

The company has also given $16 million in direct loans to those institutions and $11 million as direct support to strengthen the capacity of partner companies to reach people living in poverty, Al Ghazzawi added.

Dubai-based Grameen-Jameel Microfinance Company was founded in 2003 to work with 19 financial institutions providing micro credit for small businesses in the Arab world and Turkey.

The company has provided funding to more than 2.2 million poor people in 10 countries, namely Jordan, Syria, Turkey, Lebanon, Palestine, Yemen, Sudan, Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco or more than half of all small loan beneficiaries in the Arab region and Turkey.

Al-Ghazzawi denied that the company's activities had been affected by the recent upheavals in some Arab countries.

He said microfinance thrives in difficult conditions, saying there is 100 per cent loan repayment in Egypt. Women borrowers there stand in queues to repay their loan instalments despite the difficult security situation, he added.

Grameen-Jameel is a partnership between the Grameen Foundation in US and the Abdul Latif Jameel Initiatives for Community Development whose business has a social dimension, he added. It uses its profits to expand its activities and address the problem of poverty in the Arab world. Its earnings are not distributed among the owners of the company, he added.

He disclosed that 68 per cent of the company's loans have gone to women, most of them in Egypt, Morocco and Yemen. The loans range from $250 to $3,000.

He said procedures for giving loans to deserving people are very simple and can be completed in less than 72 hours.

He added that the company keenly follows the progress of projects for which loans are given. It insists on regular repayment of loan instalments and ensures that the borrower benefits from the loan which is a pre-condition for a second loan.

Al-Ghazzawi said Dubai was chosen as the headquarters of the company because it is a global trade and finance hub and the emirate's government lends logistical support to all its activities.

He said the Arab region needs more than $10 billion to enable 82 million people living in poverty to benefit from micro finance.

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