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Aspiring entrepreneurs breathe sigh of relief after King calls for finance fund

By Maram Kayed - Jun 27,2019 - Last updated at Jun 27,2019

His Majesty King Abdullah, accompanied by HRH Crown Prince Hussein, meets on Wednesday with young entrepreneurs (Photo courtesy of Royal Court)

AMMAN — His Majesty King Abdullah directed the government on Wednesday to create a financing fund for small-and medium-sized enterprises (SME), a move many called a “relief”.

The announcement was made during King Abdullah and HRH Crown Prince Hussein’s meeting with young entrepreneurs, and came a day after His Majesty celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Accession to the Throne hosted by Jordanian universities at the Cultural Centre in Amman.

“Only through you, can we develop and grow. You are the source of our power,” His Majesty said on Wednesday, according to the Jordan News, Agency, Petra.

The fund will not only tackle SME financial support but also provide technical support, the agency added.

A “defining” feature King Abdullah directed that the fund include was the integration of “all the youth”, meaning the entirety of the Kingdom.

The creation of the fund came as a “relief to many Jordanian youth too afraid to branch out and take their own lane because of financial obstacles”, said Mohammed Sarayrah, a young photographer in Irbid looking to start his own business.

In remarks to The Jordan Times, he said: “Not only are desk jobs financially unrewarding, but in this economy they are not even available. Since my third year at university I knew that I could not rely on a job in a studio or anything of the like because I would not make more than my allowance, if that.”

“If I were to work for someone else, someone who is probably much older, I would not be able to try out new shooting techniques or take pictures of unconventional scenes. I would lose all my creativity, and thus, myself,” he added.

Salam Musharbaj, who studies geography at the University of Jordan, also praised the fund’s potential. “Sometimes startups are made by people who would like to profit off their hobbies. I, for example, study geography but love the culinary arts. I have always wanted to start a small health-food business, and I began building that on social media a few months ago, but I do not have the money to actually launch it.”

SMEs, however, are not only a youth-dominated field. According to economist and analyst Ibraheem Rayyan, who specialises in microfinancing, SMEs are also popular with women.

“Women have many challenges at the typical 9-5 job, including transportation, childcare and sexual harassment, they are now more likely to start their own business from home, mostly with other women,” he added.

Suzan Abu Ghalyoun launched her catering business with two of her female neighbours and the help of a bank loan.

“We were able to fully repay the bank loan, but others are not so lucky, which is evident in the amount of gharimat [indebted women] who owe money to banks now. I think a government-backed fund could help empower women a lot more,” she told The Jordan Times over the phone.

Rayyan concluded that the fund, if launched in the near future, would help “decrease unemployment, contribute greatly to the GDP and enhance Jordan’s culture through the different creative SMEs.”

The Amman Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday added that the fund will contribute to empowering Jordanian youth, so that they can take part in the economy and contribute to its growth. 

The chamber pointed to the need for technical support and training that would typically hinder youth from moving forward with projects, as well as heavy restrictions imposed by banks and finance institutions, such as high interest rates. 

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