Roundtable Discussions

Enabling the Poor in Egypt: Integrating the Informal Economy into Mainstream Activity

Date : 3/13/2012

Speakers : Magda Kandil, Malak Reda, Soad Kamel Rizk and Ali El Faramawy

Despite high economic growth in Egypt over the past ten years, a large segment of the Egyptian population still lives in poverty, estimated at 40 percent. This roundtable discussion attempts to contribute to the ongoing debate about Egypt’s economic challenges post-January 25, 2011, by exploring ways of addressing high poverty, unemployment and income distribution through integrating the informal economy into the mainstream.

The roundtable drew on previous studies conducted by ECES in this respect, which concluded that the poor in Egypt stand to benefit considerably if they opt to convert their dead capital (unregistered assets) into viable economic assets that could serve as collateral to increase their access to credit and their integration in economic activity. The presentation also highlighted the main findings of ECES research regarding informality, both businesses and real estate, the size of which is estimated at 40 percent of economic activity. The discussions also addressed the main barriers that stand in the way of formalization in Egypt as well as the legislations needed to encourage the poor to formalize and utilize their idle capital.