Small and Medium Enterprises conference in Beirut, Thursday, Aug. 21, 2014. (The Daily Star/Stringer)
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Limited access to financing and an underdeveloped regulatory, institutional and policy framework are the main challenges facing small to medium enterprises in the Arab world, industry experts said Thursday at a conference organized in Beirut by the Union of Arab Banks.SMEs represent between 80 percent and 90 percent of businesses in the MENA region and account for more than 30 percent of all private sector employment, but the average share of MENA bank portfolios made up of SME lending is only 7.6 percent, Arab bankers and economists said. According to the IFC report, nearly 63 percent of SMEs in the MENA region do not have access to finance while a recent survey by the World Bank and the Union of Arab Banks of over 130 MENA banks shows that only 8 percent of lending goes to SMEs across MENA, and 2 percent in GCC countries.
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