RAMALLAH, September 12, 2013 (WAFA) – The Arab Center for Agricultural Development (ACAD) Wednesday signed an equity agreement for a total amount of $5.3 million with the European Investment Bank (EIB), Solidarité Internationale pour le Développement et l’Investissement (SIDI), Grameen Crédit Agricole Microfinance Foundation and Triple Jump to boost the microfinance sector, according to a press statement.
The financial contract was signed in Ramallah under the auspices of the Governor of the Palestinian Monetary Authority Jihad al-Wazir.
This project is focused on sustainable development in rural areas with an aim to reduce imbalances, to support small and micro-entrepreneurs from the whole Palestinian Territory – in particular women and farmers – and to create sustainable jobs, said the press release.
It will enhance the accessibility of the financial sector for the Palestinian population while supporting the transformation process of ACAD into a sustainable financial institution, ACAD Finance, which will be regulated by the Palestinian Monetary Authority.
EIB’s financial contribution of $1 million – which represents 18% of the capital of the company – will be coupled by an operation of technical assistance.
EIB Vice-President Philippe de Fontaine Vive said this project “is a milestone for improving local development in rural areas, especially for women. It provides a strong signal for the future in terms of investment, trade and job opportunities.”
“We are very pleased to make our first equity investment in the Middle East, particularly in Palestine where the microfinance sector has witnessed important developments with regards to microfinance regulations and social performance despite the challenging environment,” said Eelco Mol, Triple Jump Seed Capital Fund’s Manager.
“Triple Jump has been lending to microfinance institutions in Palestine since 2009 and with this project we look forward to contributing further to rural development through innovative financial products and services.”
Grameen Credit Agricole’s Chief Investment Officer Jurgen Hammer highlighted the importance for development actions to target rural areas, which represent an estimated 70% of global poverty.
“Small-holder farmers, including women, are the largest group of the working poor and helping them to produce and earn more is essential to their welfare. We are confident that our partnership with ACAD, who has demonstrated its capacity to balance a strong social focus and sustainability, will contribute to the empowerment of women and to the fight against poverty and food insecurity in Palestine,” said Hammer.
The SIDI CEO said “SIDI is proud to have been accompanying ACAD over the last 15 years, especially during the toughest times for microfinance in Palestine and jointly preparing ACAD over the requested stages for its transformation into a sustainable financial company keeping its prospects and outreach all over the Palestinian territory.”