The need for innovation

Our Origins

The Middle East Investment Initiative (MEII) was created in 2005 in response to the growing economic challenges in the region. MEII was developed through efforts of the Aspen Institute Middle East Strategy Group, under the leadership of former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Senators Dianne Feinstein and Chuck Hagel, in which principals from the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), now U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC), and the Palestine Investment Fund (PIF) participated.

"The Palestinian Political Risk Insurance effort is what the Clinton Global Initiative is about. We have Palestinians, Americans, Europeans, Israelis, insurance experts, business people, lawyers, financial sector specialists, regional specialists all contributing their time, energy, and resources to meet this challenge and make a difference in this very important part of the world."

— President William J. Clinton, 42nd President of the United States

August 2005

MEII is established as 501 (c)(3) not for profit corporation with Berl Bernhard as the first chair


November 2007

LGF launched in Palestine and managed by CHF International


December 2009

MEII reaches $50 million mark in approved loans


Our Beginning

Our Beginning

Inaugural Project

MEII's inaugural project, a $160 million loan guarantee facility for small and medium sized Palestinian businesses, was incubated between 2005 and 2007.

President George W. Bush endorsed U.S. support for the MEII loan guarantee concept in a July 16, 2007 speech when he authorized OPIC's partnership in the facility and stated, "The world can do more to build the conditions for peace."

Soon thereafter MEII helped to increase affordable housing opportunities throughout the region. MEII assisted the development of a $250 million mortgage financing program in Jordan.

The project helped the country works towards King Abdullah’s National Housing Initiative, which aimed to construct 20,000 new low-income residences annually over five years.

Building on MEII’s success in Palestine and in response to the Arab Spring, MEII expanded its activities in the region to include operations in Tunisia and Jordan, and has been actively exploring opportunities in Egypt and Morocco.

Pillar 1

Financial Intermediaries

Pillar 2

SME Technical Assistance

Pillar 3


Pillar 4

Missing Middle SMEs

Four Pillar Model

Our Solution

MEII is now seeking to expand its scale and impact throughout MENA and is looking for regional partners to join in this effort.

Financial inclusion, which encompasses the effective access to and use of available, affordable, convenient, quality and sustainable financial services, is central to poverty reduction and sustainable development.

In fact, access to finance underpins the international community’s development agenda as articulated in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals for 2030.

This need is particularly evident in the MENA region, which has some of the highest unemployment rates in the world and rampant political, economic and social instability.

According to the World Bank, MENA also has the lowest bank loan usage of all regions except sub-Saharan Africa, and MENA small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) utilize equity investments at the lowest rate in the world. Globally, almost 40% of small businesses are owned by women, and female participation in the labor force is an effective strategy towards sustainable and equitable growth in any economy.

 While female engagement in economic activity has improved in the MENA region, it varies across the region, and continues to be an untapped opportunity for many economies.

For nearly a decade, MEII has been proving that SMEs are both credit worthy and net contributors to job creation in the MENA region.

Starting in Palestine in 2008 and expanding to Tunisia (2013), and Jordan (2015), MEII is currently managing $369 million in SME loan guarantee facilities. We have conducted due diligence on more than $787 million in SME loan applications, and approved more than $553 million in loans. Over this period, more than 39,683 jobs have been sustained including 9,799 female employment opportunities. The key to this success is developing long-term strategic programs instead of short-term fixes, managed by experienced, locally-based teams, with a strong understanding of the real needs of indigenous entrepreneurs and SMEs.

Committed to Excellence

Committed to Excellence

How We Operate

How We Operate

MEII is staffed with a multi-disciplinary, multi-lingual and multi-cultural team of professionals with a broad spectrum of program management, legal, and development finance expertise. The bulk of this expertise is based in MENA. As MEII does not believe a top heavy organization can be effective, developing local teams and knowledge, and supporting them with new technologies and innovation have been key components to how we operate.

MEII has a sophisticated proprietary management information system (MIS) to manage the investment portfolio.  In use for nearly ten years to manage MEII’s portfolio of loan guarantees across multiple programs and countries, the MIS provides an end-to-end solution from origination tasks such as pipeline tracking and investment analysis to post-disbursement actions including site visits, repayment tracking, and other monitoring events.  The MIS tracks over 50 key data points for each investment including borrower/shareholder details, project location and sector, investment terms (interest, tenor, grace period, etc.), project cost breakdown, collateral, risk and impact rating, repayment schedules, amongst other data.  In turn, the systematic tracking of data enables robust reporting capabilities to manage any portfolio.

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The MIS, with some enhancements, is equipped to manage the Sharaka Fund.  In addition to tracking at the individual investment level, the MIS is designed to manage multiple portfolios across various countries.  Key terms and conditions can be established at a country and/or portfolio level (e.g., minimum and maximum investment amounts, maximum loan tenors, vetting requirements of specially designated nationals and blocked persons such as UN/OFAC lists) as well as the ability to establish multiple user privileges and restrictions.  Thus, only certain users, such as a Chief Investment Officer, has the authority to approve an Investment.

Other highlights of the MIS include:

  • A system generated, standard Investment Report created for every investment request sent to an Investment Committee
  • Built-in checks during the data entry process to ensure data integrity and consistency
  • Tool to manage investment officer workload and processing times
  • Multi-currency capabilities
  • Development impact rating tracking
  • Suite of standard reports (e.g., arrears monitoring, portfolio reports, amortization schedules) as well as a customized reporting tool with detailed filtering, grouping and design criteria
  • Notification mechanism to alert users of various actions (e.g., site visit reminder, changes to status of investments)
  • Audit trail providing information on which user processed transactions with time stamps
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