Jordan, August 22, 2017
Planning ministry, World Bank sign loan agreement to establish Innovative Startups Fund

The Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation on Monday signed a $50 million (some JD35.4 million) facilitated loan agreement with the World Bank (WB) to support the establishment of the Innovative Startups Fund.

The Central Bank of Jordan (CBJ) will also support the fund with $48 million (some JD34 million), Planning Minister Imad Fakhoury said at the signing ceremony on Monday.

The fund project will be implemented and operated by the Jordan Loan Guarantee Corporation.

According to Fakhoury, the fund translates one of the “key and critical recommendations” of the Economic Policy Council almost a year ago, and is in line with Jordan 2025 vision and the recently adopted Jordan Economic Growth Plan 2018-2022.

These blueprints seek to enhance economic growth by providing further support to innovative and entrepreneurial micro- small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), that create jobs and contribute to the national economy, he added.

The fund will help potential entrepreneurs in further developing their business ideas, connecting them with business incubators and providing venture capital to entrepreneurial small- and medium-sized businesses that prove their ability for sustainability and growth, according to Fakhoury.

He said they expect the fund to support 200 innovative business ideas across the country, adding that innovative and entrepreneurial businesses have created 40 per cent of the jobs in the Kingdom over the period 2006-2011.

The agreement to support the fund is part of Jordan’s partnership programme with the World Bank for 2017-2022, the minister emphasised.

He highlighted the World Bank’s continuous support to Jordan as a key partner in the country’s development and reform process, expressing hopes that the fund will build on the bank’s successful pilot programmes already implemented in Lebanon and Morocco.

CBJ Governor Ziad Fariz said that the full implementation of the project by the private sector will help maintain professional management and provide credibility to financing new products and services.

He pointed out that the fund, which will place emphasis on supporting young innovators, will also help other funds by stimulating the market.

The World Bank’s Regional Director for the Mashreq Saroj Jha stressed the importance of investing in the SMEs sector, as it makes up to 75 per cent of the Jordanian economy.

He also underlined the establishment of the fund as an effort towards achieving sustainable growth in the Kingdom.

For his part, Mohammad Jafari, general manager of the Jordan Loan Guarantee Corporation, said the corporation works in close partnership with financing corporations, owners of SMEs and the government, a matter that entitles it to run the fund.

He said the selection of investments will be the decision of a specialised private sector committee that will follow “clear and announced” selection criteria to ensure transparency and efficiency.

Jafari noted that the fund will invest in projects and in other funds, as long as all funded projects are established and operating in Jordan.

jordantimes