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The most pioneering and comprehensive professional diploma of its kind that responds to the changes and challenges of accessing and obtaining financing for micro, small, and medium enterprises sector

EPCGF Launches the “Success and Excellence Diploma” to Empower Financial Sector Professionals Assess Credit Risks and Bridge Knowledge Gaps

Ramallah & Gaza, 04 October 2023. At the headquarters of the Palestine Monetary Authority in Al-Bireh, in the presence of partners, supporters, and representatives of the banking and financial sectors, the European Palestinian Credit Guarantee Foundation (EPCGF) celebrated the official launch of the “Success and Excellence Diploma” program which enables workers in banks and financial institutions to provide services related to identifying opportunities, evaluating and managing credit risks for micro, small and medium projects.

This specialized professional diploma, which is the most pioneering and comprehensive of its kind from a professional and structural perspective, was initiated by the European Palestinian Credit Guarantee Foundation (EPCGF), in close cooperation with the Center for Continuing Education (CCE) at Birzeit University and the Palestinian Monetary Authority, with funding from the European Union, and in partnership with the German Ministry of Economic Development and Cooperation represented by the KFW Development Bank and the Palestinian Ministry of Finance.


An Ambitious Professional Program

This pioneering professional diploma, accredited by the Palestine Monetary Authority, aims to provide technical assistance intended to improve the services provided in the field of credit and risk management; mainly targeting those working in the field of credit and lending in banks and financial institutions; in response to the practical requirements of the reality of SMEs, which constitute 92% of the national economy and contribute 95% of the GDP.


The program was developed based on a creative vision and innovative solutions to the challenging environment surrounding smaller companies while focusing on addressing challenges, and finding effective practices and mechanisms that contribute to supporting the stability and growth of this sector. The program was also created to improve the skills of workers in recognizing opportunities, evaluating risks, and making informed decisions. It aims to provide them with the essential skills, knowledge, and tools while expanding access to financing for a wider range of groups.


Furthermore, the program was developed after a thorough evaluation of the lending market's current state and its requirements. Its primary objective is to support local economic growth, promote investment, and encourage innovative projects. It also adheres to professional and scientific standards, having undergone an extensive five-month preparation period followed by an objective and intensive evaluation involving all stakeholders in the small business financing sector.


Empowerment and Bridging Knowledge Gaps

Dr. Firas Melhem, Governor of the Palestine Monetary Authority, said that the launch of this program today is a clear example of cooperative work that aims to develop the Palestinian economy and enhance the steadfastness of Palestinians by creating opportunities and supporting the micro, small, and medium enterprise sectors. He further stressed that this diploma is important and comprehensive, as it focuses on several issues and axes that are in line with the vision and objectives of the Monetary Authority in empowering workers in the financial and banking sector, whether in financial technology, providing them with the necessary knowledge and tools or in concepts such as sustainable loans, green lending, and others.

For his part, Ibrahim Lafiaa, The EU Head of Cooperation, pointed out that this diploma is in line with the EU’s initiative for financial and social inclusion in marginalized Palestinian areas which was launched earlier this year. It includes incentives to guarantee and provide technical assistance worth 10 million euros; thus, enabling financial institutions to originate loans worth 120 million euros related to the micro, small, and medium enterprises sector.

He emphasized that the initiative has demonstrated its ability to support the economic sectors in Palestinian territories. He highlighted that this diploma aligns with technical assistance, capacity-building, and resource improvement goals. He stated, "We have confidence in the significance of this diploma, which is focused on closing knowledge gaps and equipping participants with specialized tools to tackle challenges within the Palestinian economy's micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises."


Professional diploma with scientific methodology

In his remarks, Hussein Habbab, the Managing Director of EPCGF, expressed his gratitude towards the partners, supporters, and contributors who played a pivotal role in the development of the “Success and Excellence Diploma.” He provided an overview of the program's key themes, objectives, and its extensive development process, which spanned more than five months and involved extensive preparation, research, study, and an assessment of the current landscape in collaboration with various partners. Additionally, in-depth discussions with financial professionals and experts were instrumental in crafting a comprehensive scientific methodology for the program.

Furthermore, he emphasized that the program’s creation was the result of constructive collaboration and significant collective effort, driven by the need to address the challenges, changes, and developments affecting the crucial and integral sector of the National Economy financing. He added, "We hope that it will contribute to addressing the primary challenges faced by professionals in the financial sector, particularly in the areas of opportunity identification and credit risk evaluation."

Habbab also highlighted that the Foundation’s primary focus is on acting as a catalyst and providing technical assistance to facilitate easier access to financing. He noted, “We anticipate that the program's outcomes will have a positive impact on supporting stability, economic and financial growth, and will foster a deeper understanding of the challenges, enabling us to identify suitable solutions.”

Development Based on the Local Market

Additionally, Dr. Osama Al-Mimi, Director of Birzeit University's Center for Continuing Education, expressed his satisfaction with the launch of this specialized diploma. He emphasized how it symbolizes a strong partnership and the harmonization of collaborative efforts to promote economic development and the sustainability of the small and medium-sized enterprises sector. Dr. Al-Mimi noted that the development of this diploma aligns seamlessly with Birzeit University's vision of disseminating knowledge. He highlighted the meticulous educational approach taken in its design and development, which includes essential, specific, and targeted topics and issues derived from the Palestinian market's reality. This approach aims to foster a deeper understanding of the challenges and facilitate the discovery of solutions and strategies to address them.

David Kunze, Director of KfW Office Ramallah, underscored the significance of this professional qualification and training diploma. He emphasized how it enables increased lending to Palestinian SMEs, emphasizing its alignment with the credit guarantees provided by the Palestinian European Credit Guarantee Fund, funded by the European Union and Germany.

Conversely, Laila Sbaih, Director General at the Palestinian Ministry of Finance, lauded this distinguished diploma for building upon past achievements, enhancing the capabilities of financial and banking institutions, and improving the skills and knowledge of workers. She stressed how it elevates the quality of financial services and fosters real partnerships and effective coordination to achieve shared objectives in sustainability, financial stability, and economic stability. Sbaih also highlighted how the program addresses genuine needs while advancing economic development and expanding the scope of financing.

The first phase of the "Success and Excellence Diploma" began at the end of last month, with approximately 200 employees from banks and financial institutions specializing in credit and risk management in the West Bank and Gaza Strip participating. It is anticipated that the total beneficiaries will reach around 600 individuals upon the program's completion, spread across three training stages spanning three years, each with approximately 150 credit hours, or roughly five months of duration. Successful participants will receive an accredited certificate endorsed by the Palestine Monetary Authority alongside the Center for Continuing Education at Birzeit University.