Monday, 27 September 2021

Ezdehar’s midcap fund is on track to hit a big close + lots of good news for fintech players

TL;DR

WHAT WE’RE TRACKING TODAY

Good morning, nice people, and welcome to a particularly busy Monday — normally the quietest news morning of the week. Here at home, business leaders have clearly shaken the last of the Sahel sand out of their shoes — and we’re all girding to see what fun the House of Representatives has in store for us when it goes back into session on Saturday.

It’s also shaping up to be a busy week abroad as oil prices rise, shortages of (just about everything?) spread, Beijing tries to ward off its “Lehman moment,” and the US grapples with high-stakes legislation worth USD tns.

BUT FIRST- Travellers to Egypt will now receive a welcome text message from the Tourism Ministry, according to a ministry statement. The program, launched in cooperation with the Communications Ministry, will see tourists arriving at Egyptian airports receive an SMS letting them know the ministry’s hotline and national emergency numbers.

ALSO- If you have little kids, you’re really going to really want to read this morning’s Blackboard, our weekly vertical on the business of education in Egypt. It looks at the pressure faced by nurseries in the world of covid — they’re clearly the most vulnerable sector in Egypt’s education industry.

THE BIG STORIES INTERNATIONALLY- There’s a lot going on. For starters: Oil in the US is now topping USD 75 per barrel thanks to a “global energy crunch.” Meanwhile, preliminary results show the left-leaning Social Democratic Party leading in Germany’s federal election, but it could be months before we know who will ultimately cobble together a coalition that makes clear who Angela Merkel’s successor will be.

How bad has covid been for us all? It sparked the biggest decline in life expectancy since the Second World War, with men in the United States suffering the biggest setbacks: They’re dying, on average, two years earlier, according to an Oxford study. The news leads the front pages of both the Financial Times and Reuters.

And you can expect some drama in Washington this week as “a slew of high-stakes deadlines collide on Capitol Hill … setting up potentially chaotic negotiations against the backdrop of expiring government funding and the threat of a possible US default.” With the US government set to run out of money just after midnight on Friday, the Wall Street Journal notes that Democratic leaders are trying to shepherd two complicated legislative packages: a roughly USD 1 tn bipartisan infrastructure bill and a sprawling healthcare, education and climate package” worth some USD 3.5 bn.

SIGN OF THE TIMES- Nearly a third of BP’s filling stations in the UK are running on empty thanks to “panic buying.” Drivers queued for hours in some cases to fill their tanks “after oil firms reported a lack of drivers was causing transport problems from refineries to forecourts.”

** IN CASE YOU MISSED IT from yesterday’s edition of EnterprisePM:

  • The gender gap: Efforts to reduce gender inequality in Egypt are going sideways, with women becoming more economically disempowered and continuing to enjoy less personal freedoms than men, according to the World Economic Forum’s latest global gender report.
  • Banque Misr has confirmed it is seeking a syndicated facility of c. USD 1 bn — its largest ever such facility — from a syndicate of 22 banks from 11 countries. We first covered last week the initial reports the bank was seeking the finance. Shahid Law is legal counsel for Banque Misr on the transaction.
  • China continues to feed the bears: China could be headed for an electricity crisis that could potentially wreak as much havoc on markets as the Evergrande fiasco.

HAPPENING THIS WEEK-

Winter retail opening hours in effect this week: Shops and restaurants will have to close a little earlier from the end of this week when winter opening hours come into effect this coming Thursday. Shops and malls will close one hour earlier at 10pm (11pm on Thursdays, Fridays and national holidays) while cafes and restaurants will shutter at midnight rather than 1am. As during the summer, essential services such as grocery stories, supermarkets and pharmacies are exempt from the rules and can open and close their doors when they want.

White House National Security adviser Jake Sullivan will visit Cairo this week as part of a brief Middle East tour that will take him to Saudi Arabia and the UAE, sources with knowledge of the matter tell Axios.

Tomorrow is the deadline to register for the AUC Business School’s Private Equity Diploma.

Conference season continues this week:

  • ITIDA’s DevOpsDays Cairo 2021, will take place on Wednesday, 29 September.
  • The Cairo International Fair opens on Thursday, 30 September at the Cairo International Conference Center. It runs through 8 October.
  • The Egypt Projects 2021 construction expo also opens on Thursday at the Egypt International Exhibition Center and wraps on Saturday, 2 October.
  • Dubai’s Expo 2020 opens on Friday, 1 October. The event, which takes place somewhere on the planet once every five years, runs for six months and will be open seven days a week. You can learn more here.

YOUR FALL CALENDAR-

PSA #1- Next week is a short work week. You can expect to have a three-day weekend 7-9 October in observance of Armed Forces Day, which is on 6 October. Folks whose workdays are tied to banks and the market can expect confirmation from the Central Bank of Egypt and EGX early next week.

We’re inching closer to the end of 3Q2021 and the beginning of another month. Here are some of the key dates coming up in October:

  • MPs and senators are returning from recess to start the new legislative session: The House of Representatives will reconvene on Saturday, 2 October and the Senate will be back in session Tuesday, 5 October.
  • PMI: September’s purchasing managers’ indexes for Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE will land on Tuesday, 5 October.
  • Foreign reserves: September’s foreign reserves figures will be out sometime during the first week of October.
  • Inflation: Inflation figures for September will be released on Sunday, 10 October.
  • IMF + World Bank meetings: The IMF and the World Bank will hold their annual meetings during the week beginning 11 October.
  • Interest rates: The Central Bank of Egypt will meet to review interest rates on Thursday, 28 October.

PSA #2- Your commute is going to get worse at the end of next week. Public schools are back in session for the fall term on Saturday, 9 October.

A little further out: The Middle East Angel Investment Network is hosting its Angel Oasis in El Gouna on 27-29 October, with separate pricing for in-person and virtual attendance.

Check out our full calendar on the web for a comprehensive listing of upcoming news events, national holidays and news triggers.

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*** It’s Blackboard day: We have our weekly look at the business of education in Egypt, from pre-K through the highest reaches of higher ed. Blackboard appears every Monday in Enterprise in the place of our traditional industry news roundups.

In today’s issue: Covid-19 has hit Egypt’s nurseries hard, with a large number having to close permanently since March 2020, while others battle to stay open in the face of increased expenses and operational changes. Those that remain open are taking measures to reduce risks to staff and children, but face a number of challenges — including staffing issues and financial strain, sources tell us.

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INVESTMENT WATCH

Ezdehar’s second fund to reach USD 100 mn first close in November

Private equity outfit Ezdehar expects to reach first close on its second fund by November, founder and Managing Director Emad Barsoum told us. The firm expects its Ezdehar Egypt Mid-Cap Fund II will reach first close with USD 100-120 mn in commitments from limited partners. A second and final close that will leave the fund with a total of USD 160-180 mn is likely to take place in 1Q2022, he said. Ezdehar had originally targeted USD 200 mn fund with two closes of about USD 100 mn each.

Among the LPs: Celebrity businessman Naguib Sawiris has made a commitment for USD 20 mn, the UK’s CDC is in with USD 25 mn, and the European Investment Bank has committed USD 15 mn. Other potential investors include the Egyptian-American Enterprise Fund, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation.

The new fund will focus on manufacturing, pharma, healthcare, consumer goods, F&B and education, Barsoum previously told us. He told the local press last year that the new vehicle will mainly target Egypt-based companies with single-transaction ticket sizes of USD 10-30 mn.

This second fund will invest its money over a four-year period in six to eight transactions, Barsoum told Al Borsa, which broke the news. The fund will target mid-cap companies, family business and founder-led companies.

Covid has set the firm’s plans back a year: The company previously planned to reach first close in late 2020, but was delayed due to covid. Ezdehar was also aiming for the second close of the fund to come before the end of the year.

The firm is presently looking at the potential launch of an impact investing fund later this year or next, Barsoum previously said. Impact investing is when the folks committing capital do so in the expectation that their investment will have a positive environmental and social impact at the same time as it generates a financial return.

The first fund: The company launched its first USD 100 mn investment vehicle, Ezdehar Mid-Cap Fund I, in 2016 to invest in mid-cap companies.

CORRECTION– 27 September 2021: A previous version of the story incorrectly said that the fund will raise USD 160-180 mn in the second close alone. The USD 160 mn figure refers to the fund’s total raised amount from both the first and second close.

OTHER INVESTMENT NEWS-

Six financial institutions are taking part in launching an EGP 500 mn real estate fund that will invest in commercial and administrative properties, Allianz Egypt head Ayman Hegazy told us. The fund will be up and running as soon as regulators give the go ahead, he said, without disclosing when he expected to get the green light.

The six institutions: Allianz Egypt with EGP 150 mn, Banque Misr and Misr Life Ins. with EGP 100 mn each, Banque du Caire with EGP 75 mn, United Bank with EGP 40-50 mn and the Arab Contractors Pension Fund with EGP 25 mn.

FINTECH

Central bank to issue mobile contactless payment licenses

Merchants will soon be able to accept contactless payments through their mobile devices as the Central Bank of Egypt said yesterday in a statement (pdf) that it will begin issuing licenses allowing mobile contactless payments. The CBE clearly has in mind technologies that allow consumers to use their cards to contactlessly pay retailers via the seller’s phones and other smart devices, which would be used as electronic point-of-sale (POS) machines.

No further details were immediately available: The central bank didn’t disclose when it would begin issuing licenses or which businesses would be eligible to apply. The bank said the move was designed to support the state’s drive to digitalize the economy and bring more SMEs into the formal economy. The decision also comes as part of the National Payments Council’s strategy to reduce reliance on banknotes, the statement added.

The central bank has been trying to nudge people towards mobile wallets: The CBE this year raised withdrawal and transfer limits for mobile wallets, opened up savings and loan services to mobile wallet users, and introduced new interoperability rules making it easier for users to withdraw, deposit and transfer EGP between different service providers.

New legislation + regulation aims to turn Egypt into a hotbed of fintech innovation: The Banking Act passed into law last year contains provisions that allow the central bank to hand out licenses to e-payments and fintech companies. The Financial Regulatory Authority is working on a separate piece of legislation governing nano-finance, crowdfunding, robo-advisory and insurtech that will allow it to hand out licenses to fintech startups and non-bank lenders and hand it supervisory powers over the sector. The bill is currently with parliament and is expected to be put to a vote in the coming months.

M&A WATCH

Dubai’s Amanat to invest EGP 4.3 bn in Egypt, Saudi Arabia + UAE

Amanat is on the lookout for Egyptian education, healthcare firms: Dubai-listed education and healthcare investment firm Amanat could invest around AED 1 bn (EGP 4.3 bn) to acquire controlling shares in Egyptian, Saudi, and Emirati firms, the company’s CEO told Al Arabiya on Sunday. The company has around AED 700 mn (EGP 3 bn) of dry powder to deploy on new acquisitions after it recently exited several of its portfolio companies, Mohamad Hamade told the broadcaster.

But the Egyptian market won’t be taking priority: Saudi and the UAE will see the “lion’s share” of new investments, Hamade said, adding that the Saudi healthcare sector in particular is attracting significant liquidity.

It doesn’t yet have a footprint in Egypt: Amanat’s current portfolio is focused squarely on the Gulf, with all of its companies based in Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain.

Amanat could have more cash to deploy after its exit from IMC and Taaleem: The firm’s coffers were boosted on Sunday by the sale of its 13.3% minority stake in Saudi firm International Medical Centre (IMC) for AED 433 mn, it said in a disclosure (pdf) to the Dubai bourse. The company also made gains when it divested from its 21.7% stake in UAE education provider Taaleem for AED 350 mn in April.

Investment in Egypt’s private education space has picked up in past months, with CIRA announcing it will team up with Elsewedy Capital to establish a EGP 2.5 bn university in New Damietta, and the Egypt Education Platform — a venture led by EFG Hermes, GEMS and the Sovereign Fund of Egypt — acquiring a school in Alexandria and signing an agreement to set up a school in Soma Bay. The SFE has plans to launch a sub-fund dedicated to investing in the education sector, and has joined a cohort of state-owned banks to establish the Lighthouse Education fund, which will fund the construction of new private K12 schools.

STARTUP WATCH

Blockchain startup Pravica raises funding from Swiss VC

Egyptian blockchain startup Pravica has received an undisclosed direct investment from Crypto Valley Venture Capital (CV VC), the company announced in a statement yesterday.

About Pravica: Founded in 2019, Pravica offers a suite of secure communication software based on a decentralized blockchain network to ensure its users’ data privacy and security.

This is the company’s first investment since April 2020, when it raised USD 500k in a pre-seed round led by 500 Startups, with participation from Modus Capital and Dyres Ventures.

The company plans to use fresh injection to expand its operations and increase users of its secure messaging app: It aims to have at least 5k businesses and 500k individual users by the end of FY2022.

About CV VC: CV VC is Swiss VC firm and incubator that targets startups in the blockchain and crypto spaces.

Want to understand the basics of blockchain? Check out our explainer here.

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LAST NIGHT’S TALK SHOWS

The introduction of income tax and VAT for YouTubers and other content creators continued to capture the attention of the talk shows last night. According to a Tax Authority directive released last week, all online content creators will need to start paying income tax on their revenues, while those who earn more then EGP 500k a year will be required to charge and remit VAT.

El Hekaya’s Amr Adib took a critical view of the Finance Ministry’s proposals: In an interview with Tax Authority official Sayed Saqr (watch, runtime: 10:45 | 1:59 | 3:04), Adib asked why the state is raising taxes on content creators but isn’t doing more to make multinational tech firms like YouTube, Google and Amazon pay their fair share, pointing to European efforts to raise taxes on large companies.

But why isn’t Google taxed? Saqr said the government does not tax revenues made by Google and YouTube because they are not registered in Egypt and offer people a way to generate revenue. He said that a 20% stamp duty is levied on companies that offer advertising services, adding that the authority is scheduled to propose replacing the stamp duty with VAT to parliament (watch, runtime: 4:10).

** We’re still trying to piece together how the Tax Authority plans to recoup VAT from YouTubers’ revenue streams. We’ll have more on this in the coming days.

Ethiopia will shutter its embassy in Cairo for six months — but it hasn’t got anything to do with GERD, according to the country’s ambassador to Egypt. Cairo Markos Tekle told BBC Arabic that work at the embassy will be suspended for three to six months starting in October for financial reasons related to a reduction in the embassy’s operating budget. Ala Mas’ouleety (watch, runtime: 3:45) and Sada El Balad’s Salet El Tahrir (watch, runtime: 14:17) had the story.

Meanwhile in GERD: Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry dismissed Ethiopia’s statement that it will only sign an agreement with Sudan and Egypt if it is assured that its water resources can be used to benefit its national interests and future development. In a phone interview on Ala Mas’ouleety (watch, runtime: 6:52), Shoukry said negotiations relate only to the filling and operation of Ethiopia’s mega-dam, branding the statement as evasive and saying it showed the lack of Ethiopian political will to reach an agreement.

Bikes will be available to rent under Cairo governorate’s Bicicletta bike-sharing project within three to four months at the latest, Khalil Shaath, head of Cairo’s urban upgrading unit, told Kelma Akhira’s Lamees El Hadidi (watch, runtime: 9:23). The governorate aims to introduce 40 bike stations and 5m-wide bike lanes on pedestrian pavements under the scheme, according to Shaath. He said an agreement was signed with an Egyptian-Danish alliance to provide digital solutions for the project in August, with payment set to be via app or monthly subscription. The Egyptian-Danish firm will also run the scheme, with state monitoring and regulation, he added. Plans for the Bicicletta project were first announced in 2017, as a UN scheme with funding from Swiss nonprofit the Drosos Foundation.

EGYPT IN THE NEWS

It’s a mixed bag in the foreign press this morning: The Finance Ministry’s controversial plans to require online content creators to pay income tax and VAT has been picked up by AFP, while India’s the Economic Times gleefully points out that a Chinese company missed out on Egypt’s high-speed rail contract, which was instead awarded to Siemens.

In the latest in the Regeni case, the Guardian reports that a delegation of Italian parliamentarians are travelling to the UK this week for talks with Cambridge University, where Regeni enrolled as a PhD student. He was abducted and killed in Egypt in 2014. This comes only a few weeks before four members of Egypt’s security services go on trial in absentia in Italy after a judge decided in May that there is “sufficient evidence” to accuse them of the murder.

ALSO ON OUR RADAR

IBM will hook up 22 wheat silos in Egypt with its industrial automation technology by the end of 2021, in a project designed to increase the supply chain efficiency of one of the country’s most important strategic commodities, the Supply Ministry said in a statement (pdf) yesterday. The multinational tech giant will work alongside local IT firm Acme Saico to equip the silos with its AI-powered software, which will automate and provide real-time data on processes relating to the shipping, transport, storage, and supply of the wheat silos.

COVID WATCH

The Health Ministry reported 680 new covid-19 infections yesterday, up from 667 the day before. Egypt has now disclosed a total of 301,625 confirmed cases of covid-19. The ministry also reported 38 new deaths, bringing the country’s total death toll to 17,187.

PLANET FINANCE

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China is worrying emerging markets: As fears of an abrupt Fed taper fade, Bloomberg suggests that a slowdown in China’s economy may pose the next big problem for emerging markets. Manufacturing indices due Thursday are expected to confirm a China-wide slowdown that goes well beyond the Evergrande saga, after the delta variant and a drop in consumer spending saw the country’s manufacturing sector record its first contraction in over a year in August.

A drop in commodity prices would be bad news for (commodity-driven) EMs: While Evergrande poses a contagion risk for property markets, “for the rest of emerging markets, what matters more is the negative impact on Chinese growth, and by extension commodity prices, and whether policy makers step in to offset those downside risks,” Goldman Sachs strategists said in a note last week. Chinese retail sales, industrial production and investment have slowed, leading to a knock-on drop in orders for emerging-market exporters of commodities like oil and copper. The longer-term fallout of the Evergrande crisis will also likely drag on growth.

But we could benefit from a China dip: Egypt’s high real interest rate puts it in a basket of countries, alongside Ghana, Indonesia, Vietnam and the UAE, that stand to do well in the context of a tighter US policy and a slower China, one Dubai-based researcher told Bloomberg.

Bahrain will double its VAT rate to 10% as it looks to raise revenues and overcome its huge budget deficit, sources tell Reuters and Bloomberg. The sources didn’t disclose when the government would hike the tax but said it was aiming to return to a balanced budget by 2024.

Bahrain isn’t the first GCC state to resort to VAT in response to covid: Saudi Arabia tripled the tax to 15% last year in response to falling oil revenues.

Up

EGX30

10,650

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USD (CBE)

Buy 15.66

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Buy 15.66

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Interest rates CBE

8.25% deposit

9.25% lending

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7,774

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DFM

2,832

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4,455

+0.2% (YTD: +18.6%)

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USD 78.09

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USD 5.14

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USD 1,751.70

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BTC

USD 43,523

+1.9% (as of midnight)

THE CLOSING BELL-

The EGX30 rose less than 0.1% at yesterday’s close on turnover of EGP 1.17 bn (26.1% below the 90-day average). Foreign investors were net sellers. The index is down 1.8% YTD.

In the green: Egypt Kuwait Holding’s EGP shares (+5.2%), Cleopatra Hospital (+3.1%) and Eastern Company (+2.9%).

In the red: Speed Medical (-2.4%), Ibnsina Pharma (-2.1%) and Ezz Steel (-1.7%).

Asian markets are largely in the green this morning, with only Shanghai being (barely) in the red at dispatch time. Futures suggest the FTSE 100 (LSE), CAC 40 (Paris), DAX (Frankfurt) will all open in the red later this morning. Wall Street looks on track for a mixed open right now, with futures showing the Dow and S&P opening in the green, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq could be down at the opening bell.

AROUND THE WORLD

“Step down” was the message to Tunisian President Kais Saied from several thousand protesters in the Tunisian capital yesterday, who took to the streets to object to his decision last week to overrule parts of the constitution and rule by decree, Reuters reports. Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt have voiced support for Saied, who has been consolidating his grip on Tunisian politics since he dismissed the prime minister, suspended parliament and gave himself executive powers over the summer.

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Nurseries are struggling like never before as covid-19 hits profits and forces operational changes: Emergency covid measures have taken their toll on Egypt’s nurseries, which have been mired in uncertainty since the onset of the pandemic 18 months ago. Many have been forced to permanently close their doors, while others are fighting to stay afloat amid rising costs, industry figures say. So far, around half of Egypt’s nurseries have remained closed since going into lockdown.

Education’s most vulnerable sector? Nurseries are in a particularly precarious financial position because payments are often monthly, not annual like school payments, says Safia Trabelsi, owner of Nile River Montessori. High employee-to-child ratios keep operational expenses relatively high. And online tuition isn’t really an option for very young children, multiple sources have reiterated.

Small Talk saw its annual operational expenses rise 30-40% over last year, estimates partner Rana Nessim. Other nurseries report comparable increases. Small Talk’s extra costs largely come from bringing in extra staff members to cover absences while continuing to pay full-time employee salaries, says Nessim. Regular employee PCR tests and rigorous sanitization measures also upped costs.

Covid capacity mandates forced some to cut admissions: After closing nurseries in March 2020, the government allowed them to reopen in July — but at 50% capacity. “Our income was slashed in half, because we had to cut admissions in half,” says Nessim. Nurseries remain cautious about operating at full capacity, despite being permitted to since November. Small Talk is currently operating at around 50% capacity, Kinderparadies at around 60%, and Fun Yard and Kompass Kindergarten at around 75%, say sources. “This definitely hit our profits as a business,” says Fun Yard owner Laila Anwar.

But refunds and staff raises still had to be paid: Because of the financial hit from increased costs and lower revenue — including requests for refunds during 2020 nursery closures — Anwar initially decided she couldn’t pay annual staff raises this year. “But I felt this wasn’t fair. So I gave raises because I don’t have to make a profit every year. And it boosted morale a bit.”

Others had to stop operations entirely: Kinderparadies stopped operating altogether from April-September, says founder Mona Yacoub. “I had to tell my staff to accept other employment offers if they had them.”

Even high-end nurseries had to consider whether reopening was worth the risk. “We considered not reopening last September, because we were worried about putting our staff at risk,” says Nessim. “But we reopened because for our staff, this is their livelihood. And we know how important it is for children to get out, play and socialize.”

For those that did reopen, staffing issues have been a major challenge: “We wanted to maintain our high staff:children ratio, but we also needed to prevent outbreaks, so we asked staff to stay home if they felt even slightly unwell. It was a lot to balance. The costs of staffing have been incredible,” says Nessim.

Half of Egypt’s nurseries have remained closed: Pre-covid, Egypt had some 15k licensed nurseries, with an estimated 10k still procuring licenses, sources at the Social Solidarity Ministry tell Enterprise. But only around half of these estimated 25k nurseries are believed to have reopened since September — mainly because demand was insufficient to make reopening financially viable, the sources add.

So have nurseries upped their fees to compensate? Not during the thick of it: Many families were economically impacted by covid, so Kompass added just a little more to its annual 10% increase in 2020, to offset extra costs, says co-founder Carmen Ragab. This was after shareholders provided extra funding — which couldn’t be repeated indefinitely, she says. Small Talk only applied increased rates to new families in 2020, says Nessim. “Children that started in 2019, whose families had paid for term three though we weren’t open, paid the same rates in 2020.” This year, the 10% increase is being applied across the board, she adds. Fun Yard applied its usual annual percentage increase to this year’s rates, says Anwar.

Few players are making use of the central bank’s new lending program: The government announced in April 2021 that nurseries would be eligible for all the benefits of the MSMEs Act, including some tax breaks and the chance to apply for a Central Bank financing initiative. Some 15-20 nurseries have received a total of EGP 10 mn in funding since then, Ahmed al Romeish, head of the Central Credit Administration at Nasser Bank, tells Enterprise. Loans range from EGP 20k – EGP 1 mn, with an interest rate of 5%, he says.

None of the nurseries we spoke to had applied for the CBE loans, with most saying they prefer to avoid incurring debt. “A group of us sent a letter asking for tax breaks this year,” says Anwar. “But I wouldn’t apply for financial aid.”

What else has made covid-19 so difficult for nurseries? When they had to close up shop, they couldn’t shift online. Mandatory closures were very tough, says Nessim. “We’d never had to operate online before. With small children, it’s really hard to do any kind of distance learning. They need in-person stimulation.”

Some provided online support where possible: Small Talk and Fun Yard started YouTube channels to share online content, but live Zoom attempts were hit or miss. “The children and teachers missed each other, so we started doing little, fun Zoom sessions, not aimed at teaching. But attendance decreased as people got overwhelmed with homeschooling and working from home,” says Anwar.

It’s dire straits until something gives: Sources say they plan to keep operating at reduced capacity, with extra safety measures, until December 2021 at least. They’re monitoring covid cases, hoping to return to full capacity as soon as possible. Until then, they’re bearing the extra costs and relying on parental support. “I think parents would fight for us not to close,” says Ragab. “Still, we’ve never been under pressure like this before — not even in 2011.”


Your top education stories for the week:

  • Egypt is facing a serious shortage of teachers: As the new school year approaches, public schools are short 250k teachers, leading the Education Ministry to ask members of the public to volunteer as teaching assistants for just EGP 20 a class.
  • CIRA to borrow ¼ bn EGP to fund capex: CIRA will borrow EGP 260 mn from an undisclosed Egyptian bank to fund upcoming projects the company announced after the board greenlit the decision.
  • EEP makes new acquisition: The Egypt Education Platform (EEP) signed an agreement to add Alexandria’s AIA International School to its portfolio.
  • Bloomfields educational zone to be offered to investors in coming days: Colliers International and CIB will offer the first phase of the educational zone within Tatweer Misr’s Bloomfields development in Mostakbal City to investors at the end of September or start of October, Hapi Journal reported, citing Colliers Egypt director Karim Helal.

CALENDAR

14-30 September (Tuesday-Thursday): 76th session of the UN General Assembly, New York.

29 September (Wednesday): DevOpsDays Cairo 2021 is being organized by ITIDA and the Software Engineering Competence Center in cooperation with DXC Technology, IBM Egypt and Orange Labs.

30 September-2 October (Thursday-Saturday): Egypt Projects 2021 expo, Egypt International Exhibition Center, Cairo, Egypt.

30 September-8 October (Thursday-Friday): The Cairo International Fair, Cairo International Conference Center, Cairo, Egypt.

30 September (Thursday): Winter opening hours for shops and restaurants begins.

30 September: Closing of 2021’s first oil and gas tender in the Gulf of Suez, Western Desert, and the Mediterranean.

30 September (Thursday): First tranche of overdue subsidy payouts will be handed to eligible exporters.

30 September (Thursday): Direct flights between Egypt and three Libyan airports resume.

October: Romanian President Klaus Iohannis could visit Egypt in mid this month to discuss ways to boost tourism cooperation between the two countries.

1 October (Friday): Businesses importing goods at seaports will need to file shipping documents and cargo data digitally to the Advance Cargo Information (ACI) system.

1 October (Friday): Expo 2020 Dubai opens.

1 October (Friday): Deadline for state-owned companies and government agencies to sign up to e-invoicing platform.

2 October (Saturday): House returns from recess; new legislative session begins.

5 October (Tuesday): Senate returns from recess; new legislative session begins.

6 October (Wednesday): Armed Forces Day.

7 October (Thursday): National holiday in observance of Armed Forces Day.

9 October (Saturday): Public schools begin 2021-2022 academic year

11-17 October (Monday-Sunday): IMF + World Bank Annual Meetings.

12-14 October (Tuesday-Thursday): Mediterranean Offshore Conference, Alexandria, Egypt.

18 October (Monday): Prophet’s Birthday.

21 October (Thursday): National holiday in observance of the Prophet’s Birthday.

24-28 October (Sunday-Thursday) Cairo Water Week, Cairo, Egypt.

27-28 October (Wednesday-Thursday) Intelligent Cities Exhibition & Conference, Royal Maxim Palace Kempinski, Cairo, Egypt.

28 October (Thursday): The CBE’s Monetary Policy Committee will meet to review interest rates.

28 October (Thursday): Second tranche of overdue subsidy payouts will be handed to eligible exporters.

30 October – 4 November (Saturday-Thursday): The first edition of Race The Legends, Egypt.

November: The French-Egyptian Business Forum is set to take place in the Suez Canal Economic Zone.

November: Egypt will host another round of talks to reach a potential Egyptian-Eurasian trade agreement, which can significantly contribute to increasing the volume of Egyptian exports to the Russia-led bloc that includes Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.

1-3 November (Monday-Wednesday): Egypt Energy exhibition on power and renewable energy, Egypt International Exhibition Center, Cairo, Egypt.

2-3 November (Tuesday-Wednesday): The Federal Reserve meets to review interest rates.

1-12 November (Monday-Friday): 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), Glasgow, United Kingdom.

16-17 November (Tuesday-Wednesday): Africa fintech summit, Cairo.

26 November-5 December (Friday-Sunday): The 43rd Cairo International Film Festival.

29 November-2 December (Monday-Thursday): Egypt Defense Expo, Egypt International Exhibition Centre.

7-8 December (Tuesday-Wednesday): North Africa Trade Finance Summit.

8-10 December (Wednesday-Thursday): Global Forum for Higher Education and Scientific Research (GFHS), Cairo, Egypt.

12-14 December (Sunday-Tuesday): Food Africa Cairo trade exhibition, Egypt International Exhibition Center, Cairo, Egypt.

13-17 December: United Nations Convention against Corruption, Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt.

14-19 December (Tuesday-Sunday): The Cairo International Festival for Experimental Theater.

14-15 December (Tuesday-Wednesday): The Federal Reserve meets to review interest rates.

15 December (Wednesday): Deadline for joint stock companies and investment companies in Cairo to join e-invoicing platform.

16 December (Thursday): The CBE’s Monetary Policy Committee will meet to review interest rates.

14-16 February 2022 (Monday-Wednesday): Egypt Petroleum Show, Egypt International Exhibition Center, New Cairo, Egypt.

1H2022: The World Economic Forum annual meeting, location TBD.

22-24 April 2022: World Bank-IMF spring meeting, Washington D.C.

May 2022: Investment in Logistics Conference, Cairo, Egypt

16 June 2022 (Thursday): End of 2021-2022 academic year for public schools

27 June-3 July 2022 (Monday-Sunday): World University Squash Championships, New Giza.

2H2022: IEF-IGU Ministerial Gas Forum, Egypt. Date + location TBA.

**Note to readers: Some national holidays may appear twice above. Since 2020, Egypt has observed most mid-week holidays on Thursdays regardless of the day on which they fall and may also move those days to Sundays. We distinguish below between the actual holiday and its observance.

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