A fund with a capital base of USD 224 million for financing small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) will soon be established, announced the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the European Investment Bank (EIB), the French Development Agency (AFD) and the Delegation of the European Commission to Jordan. According to a statement issued by the mission of IFC, based in the Jordanian capital of Amman today, IFC and EIB will contribute with USD 150 million, AFD with USD 50 million and the EU with USD 24 million. The fund, in partnership with the World Bank, will provide an additional value, ranging from USD 350-400 million to guarantee bank loans that will support the SMEs, the statement added. According to the statement, the Fund will focus on helping Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco in finding employment opportunities where the unemployment rates are significantly high among their youth as it is estimated that the region will be needing 75 million employment opportunities in the next decade. The statement quoted statements from some of the funding officials who stressed the importance of SMEs as the driving force of economies as well as the significance of the Fund to encourage banks to provide SMEs with loans and guarantees. SMEs represent about 80 percent of the region\'s economies and nearly 40 percent of employment in some countries in the area, but they suffer from a severe shortage of financial access, noted the statement.