Enterprise Development

We support the startup and growth of sustainable, job creating youth enterprises across the Arab World.

As of March 2015, Silatech Enterprise Development has…

  • Financed/supported over 90,000 youth-run enterprises
  • Created or sustained over 140,000 jobs
  • Partnered with 30 financial institutions and 20 non-financial institutions, representing over two million clients
  • Raised over $124 million in partner co-funding

  • Silatech is the largest provider of youth-focused microenterprise services in the Middle East and North Africa.


    Why Enterprise?

    There simply aren’t enough jobs for young people looking for work in the Arab world. Public sector jobs are no longer a guarantee for graduates, and lackluster economic growth in many countries in the region means there simply aren’t enough vacancies to absorb the currently unemployed, let alone those entering the labor market each year.

    The vast majority of employers in the region and globally are “enterprises,” 80-90% of which are micro- and small enterprises with less than 50 employees and less than $50,000 in assets. At the most basic level, a self-employed young person performing a trade or providing a service that generates income constitutes an enterprise and, as such, a future employer. New enterprise creation and growth is fundamental to employment generation.

  • MENA youth (15-24) have the world’s lowest levels of financial access.
  • MENA receives the least amount of capital funding of any region globally.
  • The financing gap for MSMEs in the MENA region is $320-390 billion.
  • Only 8% of all bank loans in MENA go to MSMEs.

  • Despite this reality, limited access to finance, business support services and/or technical assistance is hampering the ability of many enterprises to start and grow into sustainable job creating businesses. Silatech works to bridge this gap, connecting young entrepreneurs with financing and assistance.

    Silatech currently provides five main avenues of support for enterprise development in the region.


    Enterprise Financing

    To unlock capital from financial institutions for lending to youth enterprises, Silatech typically combines technical assistance with different types of innovative seed financing tools. We currently offer three distinct types of seed financing to financial institutions:

    Debt
    Concessional or sub-commercial debt is offered to MSMEs via financial institutions, national and regional funds. Typically, these are medium-term loans offered at below-market lending rates, in local currency, for institutions to match with other funds in order to introduce youth-focused financial services.

    Equity
    This is investment into MSMEs from Silatech through financial institutions, national apex institutions or regional funds. Silatech also provides equity into new financial institutions, particularly in underpenetrated markets. All equity acquisitions are made with the clear intent of maximizing youth job creation.

    Loan Guarantees
    Typically, Silatech guarantees are used to partially cover the risk of extending microcredit to a new higher-risk target segment—for example, lending to youth-owned startup microenterprises, agricultural finance, etc. The risk coverage that Silatech’s guarantees provide enables MFIs to unlock their own or third party funding to then finance riskier, higher social impact clients.

    Crowdfunding
    Following our successful Kiva Arab Youth partnership with Kiva, Silatech is building “Narwi,” the Arab world's first online micro-waqf (micro-endowment) donations platform, providing crowdsourced financing for young entrepreneurs.


    Technical Assistance

    Silatech provides capacity building and technical assistance services to financial institutions (FIs) in the Arab World to assist them in the development of youth enterprise focused strategies, products and services.

    Through its industry leading partnerships, Silatech has core capability in a range of TA services:

  • Development of youth strategies
  • Design and testing of youth financial products (specialized youth loans, youth savings and other products)
  • Staff training on how to address the youth market
  • Marketing and communications solutions to enable better outreach to youth
  • Social performance monitoring and evaluation support solutions
  • Portfolio diagnostic support

  • Based on an expression of interest from a partner financial institution for technical assistance, Silatech typically carries out a review of the institution to determine its capacity and motivation to intentionally target young people as a new client base.

    On the basis of this review, we negotiate and agree terms and conditions for the technical assistance so that the FI is appropriately supported as it works to target this under-penetrated yet high-growth market.

    In 2015, we plan to build on this experience, as well as support the development of a new range of products with financial institutions including products designed for the Islamic, agricultural, rural, women and SME markets.

    Enterprise Support Services

    In many of our Enterprise Development projects, youth enterprises are provided with business support services as a complement to financial services.

    Our current enterprise support offerings include

  • Financial literacy
  • Enterprise development training
  • Business plan development
  • Mentoring
  • Market access solutions
  • Access to finance referral services

  • Silatech delivers these services through its network of partner financial institutions, business development providers, youth-serving NGOs and, national and regional funds operating within MENA.

    Innovative new approaches to be developed in 2015 include

  • Entrepreneurship risk/credit assessment using psychometrics
  • Business capability assessment
  • Enterprise hiring solutions


  • Web Financing Platform

    Building on its highly successful partnership with Kiva (Kiva Arab Youth), Silatech is building the Arab World’s first donations-based web financing platform for young entrepreneurs ("Narwi"), with a broad consortium of international, regional and local partners.

    Unlike the Kiva platform, Narwi will be fully localized to the region, including Arabic/French/English language functionality as well as the use of regional payment gateways and dedicated marketing channels.

    Narwi is based on the concept of "Micro-endowment" or “Micro-Waqf.” Narwi will offer a fully Shari’a-compliant funding option for donors who have a strong interest in supporting entrepreneurship through Islamic charity.

    Social Enterprise and Inclusive Business

    Social enterprises are organizations which apply commercial strategies to further a social good. They have a clear social mission and a strategy that combines resourcefulness and innovation, which allows them to be financially sustainable.

    Entrepreneurship with Impact
    Silatech is a founding member of Entrepreneurship with Impact (EWI), a regional fund set up to provide capacity building and investment in social and inclusive businesses across the Arab world. The first impact investment fund of its kind set up in the region, EWI provides both financial and non-financial support to social businesses including the provision of training and incubation services.

    Inclusive Business Models
    The second primary focus of EWI involves connecting low-income and underserved communities in rural and semi-urban areas (”base of the pyramid”) to the core business of large national and multinational corporations, thereby creating jobs for youth.

    Projects

    Regional

    Youth Entrepreneurship Project (YEP)

    This three-year collaboration with international NGO PlaNet Finance is designed to improve access to financial services for young entrepreneurs in Palestine, Egypt and Lebanon. The project is expected to benefit over 3,000 economically and socially disadvantaged youth and their families.

    Countries covered: Palestine, Egypt, Lebanon


    Narwi

    When launched, “Narwi” (www.narwi.org) will be the first online Micro-Endowment (or Waqf) platform. It will allow users to create a personal Endowment that they can contribute toward financing the young Arab micro-entrepreneur of their choice. Our mission is to connect these young micro-entrepreneurs with capital and knowledge, mobilized through the crowd, which enables them to grow sustainable businesses and create jobs for others. These endowments are reimbursed into the users’ account as the micro-entrepreneur makes their repayments, so that contributions move on to support others as well. Narwi will be implemented with a network of international and regional partners; it follows Silatech's successful partnership with Kiva in implementing "Kiva Arab Youth."

    Countries covered: Yemen, Lebanon, Palestine, Jordan, Iraq, Somalia


    Kiva Arab Youth

    Started in March 2012, Kiva Arab Youth is a partnership between Silatech and Kiva, the world's largest microlending platform which allows visitors to make direct, online loans of as little as $25 to young Arabs of their choice who are either starting a new business or seeking to expand an existing one. As of March 2014, Kiva Arab Youth had mobilized over 150,000 individuals who collectively have lent more than $6.7 million to fund 5,000 young Arab entrepreneurs through MFI field partners in six countries (Lebanon, Palestine, Iraq, Jordan, Yemen and Somalia, the latter two having been brokered by Silatech).

    Countries covered: Yemen, Lebanon, Palestine, Jordan, Iraq, Somalia


    Regional Youth Savings Initiative

    This initiative supports economic empowerment of socio-economically disadvantaged youth in building assets by offering them specialized micro-savings accounts, linking them to financial literacy training, and conducting social marketing activities to increase their and broader societies’ awareness of the importance of savings.

    Countries covered: Yemen, Morocco


    Morocco

    MarocInvest PME Croissance Fund

    Along with other public and private co-investors, Silatech is investing in this country level fund. The fund invests equity and quasi-equity in Moroccan SMEs that create quality jobs, have innovative business models or provide innovative products and services.

    Countries covered: Morocco


    IFAD Rural Youth Economic Empowerment Program

    $3 million program working with local partners – including microfinance institutions, banks, non-profits and companies in Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt and Yemen – to build their capacity to design, manage and sustain youth-inclusive financial products and complementary non-financial services to disadvantaged and financially excluded youth living in rural areas.

    Countries covered: Yemen, Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia


    Regional Youth Savings Initiative

    This initiative supports economic empowerment of socio-economically disadvantaged youth in building assets by offering them specialized micro-savings accounts, linking them to financial literacy training, and conducting social marketing activities to increase their and broader societies’ awareness of the importance of savings.

    Countries covered: Yemen, Morocco


    Youth Loan Project (Boudour)

    Silatech is providing technical assistance to Attawfiq Microfinance in Morocco to support their ability to expand the provision of youth financial services, including the launch of a dedicated youth loan product.

    Countries covered: Morocco


    Moroccan Youth Financing Facility

    Silatech and Jaida (a wholesale financing institution for the Moroccan microfinance sector) have created a USD 3 million Moroccan Youth Enterprise Fund, which provides lines of credit, technical assistance and client training to enable the microfinance sector in Morocco to expand its provision of youth financial services.

    Countries covered: Morocco


    Yemen

    Regional Youth Savings Initiative

    This initiative supports economic empowerment of socio-economically disadvantaged youth in building assets by offering them specialized micro-savings accounts, linking them to financial literacy training, and conducting social marketing activities to increase their and broader societies’ awareness of the importance of savings.

    Countries covered: Yemen, Morocco


    Youth Loan Fund

    Silatech has a longstanding partnership with Al Amal Microfinance Bank (AMB) on the development of innovative youth financial services. Through this pioneering project with AMB, a youth strategy has been developed for the financial institution which has included a loan product for existing youth-run enterprises, a startup product called Mashrou3i, a youth savings account, and support to the creation of a sister entity Al Amal Foundation which provides pre- and post-finance training and business support to youth-run enterprises.

    Countries covered: Yemen


    Youth Small Enterprise Loan Fund

    Silatech is providing technical and financial assistance to support Yemen’s Small Enterprise Development Fund in youth financial services, including the launch of a dedicated youth small enterprise loan product.

    Countries covered: Yemen


    Egypt

    Entrepreneurship with Impact

    Silatech is a founding member of Entrepreneurship with Impact (EWI), a regional fund set up to provide capacity building and investment in social and inclusive businesses across the Arab world. The first impact investment fund of its kind set up in the region, EWI provides both financial and non-financial support to social businesses including the provision of training and incubation services.

    Countries covered: Egypt, Lebanon


    Village RoSCAs for Community Savings and Borrowing

    This research project is testing a number of methods to build village RoSCAs (Rotating Savings and Credit Associations) that would enhance micro savings and borrowing among villagers. The objective is to enhance access to finance among the villagers, while building on their capacities, without pushing them into debt traps.

    Countries covered: Egypt


    Capacity Building for Egyptian Microfinance

    Through Silatech’s partnership with Microsoft, this project will provide IT software from Microsoft to MFIs, in addition to developing new software for loan tracking to automate management and improve efficiency. In addition, the program will provide capacity building programs to support MFIs in helping startup entrepreneurs.

    Countries covered: Egypt


    Youth Enterprise Growth Initiative

    Together with the UK-based Mowgli Foundation, Silatech is providing a package of non-financial services (training, mentorship and access to finance) to support the growth of micro enterprises run by high potential youth clients of the Alexandria Business Association (ABA). With funding from DFID, Silatech is also partnering with Yale University to carry out a study into the impact of providing higher levels of financing to high potential clients of ABA,

    Countries covered: Egypt


    Yomken

    Silatech is supporting the development and expansion of Yomken’s (Yomken.com) operations for their crowdfunding and open innovation services.

    Countries covered: Egypt


    Rural Youth Economic Empowerment through Community Development Associations

    Silatech is supporting Community Development Associations (CDAs) and the Village Savings and Loans Associations (VSLAs) which they serve to provide a package of training, business development services and financing solutions to youth.

    Countries covered: Egypt


    Somalia

    Microfinance Technical Assistance Project – Puntland

    Silatech is supporting a Puntland-based NGO, Help Leads to Hope, to design and launch a youth-focused microfinance institution—Kaamil MFI—which will facilitate access to loan capital and micro savings facilities for young entrepreneurs in Puntland and beyond.

    Countries covered: Somalia (Puntland)


    Kaah Islamic Microfinance Services

    Silatech, Kaah Express and the American Refugee Committee have partnered to launch Kaah Islamic Microfinance Services, a youth-focused microfinance institution which will leverage the existing Kaah Express networks and agents in urban and rural areas. Silatech provides technical assistance.

    Countries covered: Somalia (all parts)


    Somaliland Youth Enterprise Fund (SYEF)

    Silatech and the microfinance arm of Doses of Hope (DOH), Kaaba Microfinance Institution (K-MFI), and AFF/Shuraako (non-profit operating foundation) and Kiva have established a revolving fund in order to create sustainable and resilient self-employment opportunities directly targeting youth-run small businesses in Somaliland.

    Countries covered: Somalia (Somaliland)


    Microfinance Technical Assistance Project—all of Somalia

    Silatech has entered into a partnership with Dahabshiil (a leading African money services business) to support the company’s spin-off microfinance institution, with the objective of promoting Somali youth enterprise development and providing employment solutions throughout Somalia.


    Somali Youth Employment and Entrepreneurship Program (SYEEP)

    Silatech, Shaqodoon and the American Refugee Committee have partnered to create SYEEP, the primary component of which is the establishment of specially-designed “One Stop Shop” (OSS) centers for youth employment and business support services.

    Countries covered: Somalia


    Tunisia

    TunInvest Croissance FCPR Fund

    Along with other public and private co-investors, Silatech is investing in this country level fund. The fund invests equity and quasi-equity in Tunisian SMEs that create quality jobs, have innovative business models or provide innovative products and services.

    Countries covered: Tunisia


    MobiSouk

    A part of Silatech’s Najja7ni service in Tunisia, MobiSouk is a mobile based marketplace that connects young entrepreneurs without Internet access to customers (B2C) and other businesses (B2B), where they can offer services and products.

    Countries covered: Tunisia


    Technical Assistance to MicroCred

    Silatech is providing loan capital, business development services, technical assistance to MicroCred to develop a youth startup loan product.


    Lebanon

    Entrepreneurship with Impact

    Silatech is a founding member of Entrepreneurship with Impact (EWI), a regional fund set up to provide capacity building and investment in social and inclusive businesses across the Arab world. The first impact investment fund of its kind set up in the region, EWI provides both financial and non-financial support to social businesses including the provision of training and incubation services.

    Countries covered: Egypt, Lebanon


    Technical Assistance to Ibdaa Microfinance

    Silatech is providing technical assistance and financial support to Ibdaa’s youth startup product (Mashroui), in addition to a standard youth loan product targeting existing businesses (Shabab).

    Countries covered: Lebanon


    Jordan

    Vocational Training and Startup Financing

    Silatech provides technical assistance and training to improve the impact of MFW's existing "Mihnati" program. Mihnati is a loan product that finances vocational education and training. Silatech is jointly developing "Makinati," a loan product for young startup entrepreneurs targeted mostly to graduates of the Mihnati program.

    Countries covered: Jordan


    Youth Enterprise Programme with Tamweelcom

    Silatech provides technical assistance and financial support to Tamweelcom, one of Jordan’s largest and most established MFIs. The objective is to target socially and economically challenged youth with start up business projects in Jordan.

    Countries covered: Jordan


    Sudan

    Technical Assistance to IRADA

    Provision of loan capital in addition to technical assistance and BDS solutions to IRADA to launch youth financial services combined with training to existing/future youth clients across Sudan.

    Countries covered: Sudan