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EBRD, Italy to support youth economic inclusion, SMEs in SEMED

Italy, through its Ministry of Economy and Finance, is supporting European Bank for Reconstruction Development (EBRD) initiatives to promote economic inclusion in the Southern and Eastern Mediterranean (SEMED) region, with a particular focus on supporting youth employment and the development of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

A grant agreement was signed at the 2018 EBRD Annual Meeting in Jordan today in the presence of the EBRD’s Alternate Governor for Italy, Gelsomina Vigliotti, EBRD Vice President, Policy and Partnerships, Pierre Heilbronn, and EBRD Managing Director for SME Finance, Claudio Viezzoli.

The EBRD is currently developing a SEMED Youth Employment Program, to be piloted in Egypt this year and then rolled out in the rest of the region. It will address some of the difficulties faced by employers and young job-seekers in the small private business sector.

The program will promote quality, work-based learning opportunities as a route towards employment for young people. It will also involve specific projects to build the capacity of local SMEs to recruit more effectively and retain skilled young people. The program will provide EBRD direct investment and risk-sharing support for SMEs that have the potential to offer employment to young job-seekers.

Italy will contribute to the implementation of the EBRD program by making available up to €2 million in technical assistance and up to €4 million in grants for co-investment.

Part of the financial contribution from Italy will be channeled through the EBRD Small Business Impact Fund (SBIF), whose donors include, in addition to Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Luxemburg, Sweden, Switzerland, Taipei China and the US. The SBIF helps to finance investments, and advisory and policy dialogue activities focusing on SMEs across the EBRD regions.

Italy is a founding member of the EBRD and an important contributor to the Bank's work. It is among the major contributors to the EBRD technical cooperation funds and investment co-financing funds, with €133 million provided since 1992.

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