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More than 20 million Egyptians, including many small business owners, now use the service, which processes 1.5 million payments daily.The region needs more of these private entrepreneurs. Unfortunately, at the moment, unsupportive business and regulatory environments are stifling the startup ecosystem.The region has 23 million small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs), accounting for roughly 90 percent of the private sector, but SMEs receive just 8 percent of total bank lending.Much can be done to ensure that more startups in the region are able to make the leap from good idea to business success.Doing so would encourage more investment to flow into the region.Nearly one in three young people in the region is unemployed, and those who do have jobs often work in the public sector, which is the largest employer throughout the Arab world.Global development-finance institutions, like the World Bank Group – which includes my institution, the International Finance Corporation – can provide a bridge between governments and the private sector.
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