A World Bank managed funding mechanism launched Thursday will commit $1.4 Million to improving the lives of people in rural Egypt. The Egypt Development Marketplace (DM) will award a series of grants and provide technical support to organizations with a demonstrated potential of creating jobs in the agricultural sector, the World Bank said today. World Bank Country Director for Egypt Hartwig Schafer said, “Our focus this time around is on Upper Egypt. With this open competition we hope to stimulate the rural economy as a way of creating opportunities in remote regions and villages where poverty is most acute.” The Development Marketplace encourages applications for funding from private companies and civil society organizations with a clear social mission. Applications go through rigorous, merit-based scrutiny by panels of development experts from inside and outside the World Bank. Each DM has a separate theme, with the latest one in Egypt focused on organizations working on food processing, agricultural waste management, handicrafts, and other aspects of the rural economy. A series of seminars will be held in four governorates in Upper Egypt, Assuit, Qena, Aswan and Menia, to reach out to businesses and civil society organizations and encourage broad-based participation in the competition, the World Bank said. World Bank Institute’s Development Marketplace programme Team Leader Drew von Glahn said, “The Egypt Development Marketplace is designed to provide financial and capacity building resources for social enterprises as they refine and strengthen their business models. We look for these organizations to increase their ability to scale their operations, access follow-on growth funding and ultimately position themselves to have long-term social impact.” Apart from funding, grantees will also be eligible for advisory support in areas ranging from corporate governance to environmental management from the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group which focuses exclusively on private sector investment in developing countries. Technical support will also be available from Egypt’s most prominent companies, foundations, and international organizations. The DM program, housed in the World Bank and administered by the World Bank Institute, and funded by various partners has, since its inception in 1998, awarded more than US$60 Million grants to more than 1,200 innovative projects identified through country, regional, and global DM competitions.