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The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development – Refugee Response Investment Plan

Helping Jordanian and refugee children build a cohesive society

Amman kindergarten benefits from help for small businesses

The conflict in Syria continues to drive displaced people to neighbouring countries. Almost one and half million refugees have fled to Jordan, of whom over 30 per cent are children. And most of them have already suffered five years of interrupted schooling.

This crisis seems likely to leave a generation of young people without prospects or any ability to build a prosperous future for their home countries.

And the large scale exodus has also put a huge strain on many of Jordan’s resources, in particular its municipal infrastructure. So the EBRD’s efforts to alleviate the crisis concentrate on both host communities and refugees alike.

The EBRD’s refugee response investment plan, made up of its own funds and donor contributions, has so far received support from the EUUK and USAID.

Its objective is to make structural changes to build up Jordan’s resilience and make it possible for Syrians to integrate into local society as well as to allow them to earn livelihoods for themselves while contributing to their host country’s economic development.One of the ways the EBRD is helping Jordan respond to the crisis is through the recently launched Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSME) Framework aiming at promoting small business growth and competitiveness by improving their access to finance and know-how.This is a credit line in partnership with three banks: Cairo Amman BankBank Al Etihad and Capital Bank.In total, this framework is expected to provide support to thousands of small businesses across the whole country, in sectors ranging from agribusiness and manufacturing through to education and construction.“The support to our partner banks to on-lend to small and medium entrepreneurs in refugee hosting communities is a critical corner stone of EBRD’s resilience and refugee response,” said Heike Harmgart, Head of the EBRD’s office in Jordan.“This financing will enable SMEs to grow, boost the local economy and provide jobs for Jordanians and Syrians alike.”450 children studying at the private Ajyal Alfarooq kindergarten and elementary school in Amman are among the first beneficiaries of this new framework.As part of the initiative, its owner and manager, Kamal Abu Alezz, received two loans to modernise the classrooms and potentially extend the premises so that the school could educate even more children.This is especially vital when the influx of refugee children is growing day by day and state schools are unable to welcome them all.“We opened this school, as we wanted to help our country,” Mr Alezz said. “We are an example of a strong partnership between the private sector and the education sector.”

“Our school is open to all children and we provide our students with a comfortable, clean and healthy school environment to encourage their growth. The only difference between us and other private schools is that we have low fees.

“We understand Jordanian children’s difficult situation as well as that of kids from other nations, especially the refugee kids that might not be able to afford other institutions.”

“An investment in knowledge pays the best dividends,” Benjamin Franklin once said.

The EBRD and Jordan’s private sector are hoping for handsome returns on this particular investment in the future.

[Source: European Bank for Reconstruction and Development/By Kasia Kukula-Media Relations]

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