The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has launched a programme looking to empower woman in business in Egypt.

The move comes days after the International Monetary Fund's Middle East and Central Asia director, Masood Ahmed, warned Egypt's economy would require considerable external funding in the next few years. Egypt's economic growth was undermined by four years of political turmoil after the 2011 Arab Spring uprising against long-standing leader Hosni Mubarak. Free elections initially brought the Muslim Brotherhood to power, but following huge public protests in June 2013, the army seized power.

The EBRD teamed up with the National Bank of Egypt (NBE), the country's largest commercial bank, to set up a Women in Business programme, with the aim of strengthening the role of female entrepreneurs in the Egyptian economy. Females account for just 11% of entrepreneurs in Egypt, according to a recent report by the Washington DC-based think tank Global Entrepreneurship Development Institute.

Supporting Egyptian women

The two banks first came together in 2014 when the EBRD provided a credit line of $20m (£13m) to NBE for on-lending to women-run businesses. The new programme, meanwhile, will provide a package of financial and technical support for Egyptian women who are either starting up or expanding their companies. Support will include tailored advice and training.

"Support and development of women entrepreneurs has the potential to be an important driver of growth for Egypt and result in a more inclusive and sustainable economy, which is one of the EBRD's priorities," Philip ter Woort, EBRD Director for Egypt, said. The EBRD has invested in excess of €1bn (£740m) in Egypt's financial, agribusiness, infrastructure, manufacturing and service sectors since the start of its activities in the country at the end of 2012.