Egypt, Middle East

EGY03 - NCEC Poverty Relief Programmes: Partnership Reports

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Report Date: April 16, 2024

Report from BHW Egypt Partnership Facilitator Following Visit

On Monday the 19th of March 2024, BHW facilitators Kevin and Helen along with John Stanley from Chase Oaks Church spent the day with the team from Nasr City Church. For context, the partnership here has two components, 1) loans to people who have the capacity to manage a small business and 2) social support for people who have fallen into poverty, usually for a short period of time to tide them through their emergency. NCEC has two separate teams that manage these funds and who liaise together. MH is the elder in charge of this aspect of ministry. 

meeting with pastorWe spent the morning visiting three people who are involved in the loan programme as beneficiaries with several team members. We spent the afternoon visiting Al Amal Evangelical Church that is in partnership with NCEC with members of that team. Al Amal is a particularly poor area of Cairo. We spent time with the pastor, a woman came to visit us to tell us her story, we heard a proposal from the pastor about what he would like to do and then we went to visit one family they are currently caring for as part of this programme. We finished our time at around 3pm with lunch at NCEC church at which we talked about the project and the future. 


Recent Events


The economic situation in Egypt has not made life any easier for those at the bottom of the heap. Many of the poorest of the poor who once had jobs can no longer get them easily. This is especially an issue during winter when many day jobs are just not available. The request for assistance and for loans has increased significantly and the work of both teams from the church has intensified.

There is one more payment to come to this programme from BHW later in 2024. The loan programme has continued to work well and there is an increase in demand for the number of loans and also for the size of each loan. Because of this they have put a cap on the maximum size of a loan to 20,000 Egyptian pounds (US$400).

There is now approximately 2 million Egyptian pounds in the loan fund, at the inception of this partnership the fund was around £50,000. There are currently 100 active loans out. Across the five years they have had 96% repayment. Currently six are struggling with repayments, they have not defaulted but are delayed. In total 450 loans have been given. 


Personal Stories

Loan Beneficiaries

entrepreneurHenny is an active entrepreneur. He has a small shop from which he mainly sells shoes but has recently branched out into footwear accessories and other fashion accessories: bracelets, rings, scarves, bags etc, some of which he designs and makes.

Henny is married with two boys and a 20-month-old daughter. Many people buy from him because he has a great reputation in the street. We were there during Ramadan, so it was very quiet during the day, but at night it is very busy. Ramadan and Eid are the two best times for business. He lives near to NCEC, and his kids go to the kindergarten there and to church. He also goes to an Orthodox Church from time to time.

He used to be a wealthy businessman with assets and stock of over US$500k. He imported containers of goods from China to sell, mainly bathroom, plumbing and sanitary ware. However, in 2017, while he was unloading his truck with goods, a vehicle ploughed into him and exploded. Five people were killed and his whole body was broken. Along with his health he lost all his resources and was confined to a wheelchair over the next five years. He had 12 operations and one of his ankles has not healed completely.

Five months ago, he took out a 20,000 Egyptian pounds loan to open his new store. Prior to this he was in no condition to be able to run a business. He is very good with repayments and has only £3,000 left to repay. He would like to get another loan sometime soon.

When his children were born, he realised he could not sit around and wait for someone to help him, he would have to get active despite his disabilities. Now he can care for his family well and they go to an American school which costs around EGP150,000 (US$3k) per child per year. He is very proud of this and that he now has savings in the bank of almost EGP75k (US$1,500).


good businessmanYusef has had a printer and consumables business since 2016. Some years ago, the government devalued the EGP overnight and he almost lost his business and his home. He struggled on for some months before getting a loan of EGP20,000 (US$400) and paid it back. He then got a second loan of EGP50,000 Egyptian pounds (US$1,000) and began paying it back at US$100/month. He currently has five repayments left to make. With the first loan he was able to buy seven newly imported printers, and this rescued his business as he was able to get more customers when competitors were not able to do the same. With the second loan he was able to move into the current building which has more room for his business. At the time he got the second loan he also sold a small apartment, combined the money and rented this larger building. This place is near to his home which makes life much more manageable. This reduces his costs and time stuck in traffic. Once this current loan has been repaid, he does plan to get another loan if possible. 

Currently he has about 20 customers some of whom have more than one machine. He gets his machines from two sources, from local companies with second hand machines, some of them trade-ins, and also from companies that import second hand machines from Europe. There were many old machines lying around outside the building and every month people come around and he sells them by weight for scrap. He makes about 30% on each machine and has contracts and guarantees with his customers. Most of his customers are schools, several of them international schools. 

As a young man he began as a driver for a company that serviced printers and other technology. After some time, the boss asked him to help with maintenance on the machines and he found he had a real knack for it. Some time later he became the boss of the branch. After several years in that role, he decided to open his own business. He has a partner in the business with him, but he does most of the work. It would be very difficult to borrow money from a bank as the interest is as high as 30% per year, there are many documents to complete and right now banks are talking about a 2% increase in the interest rate. People avoid bank loans like the plague. 

He is married and has two daughters who are twelve and eight and a boy of seven. Earlier on his wife also got a loan and started a kindergarten for poor kids in the 15th of May City near Helwan. The Evangelical church in that area took over the kindergarten after some years and she finished there three years ago. His wife used to work at NCEC church in the preschool. Currently the family attends an Orthodox church near their house.

Without the loan he would have to go to the bank and there would be no profit from his business. This would make life much more difficult for his family and his wife would have to work outside the home. Because of this loan she can stay at home while the children are young and care for them.


vibrant manRomany is a single vibrant young Christian man. He is so happy to be a Christian and have Jesus in his business. He used to live in 15th of May City near Helwan and worked in a tattoo shop there. However, this situation there was not great, and his business made very little money. 

His friend’s mother knew someone from NCEC and heard about the loan programme. He asked if it would be possible to get a loan to start up his new business in Cairo. There are many more people in Cairo that want his services than where he was previously based. He learned tattooing 12 years ago from a friend and now trains other people. He is the only one working in the business and just now only has about three clients per week, but he has only been operating from here since October 2023. He has a presence on Facebook and Instagram and people are slowly learning about him. 

He got a loan of EGP20,000 in October 2023 and is good at repaying. With the money he purchased furniture, paid for the bond, paid rent for the first 6 months and decorated the building. Compared to before his business is good and he expects at some time he will need another loan.

Tattooing is not like tattooing in the West. The majority of the tattooing is eyebrows for women, about 60% of what he does. The other 40% is drawings and icons for Coptic Christians. 


Social Services 

On our last visit with the social team in 2022 we met a young girl with serious disabilities. She was bedridden, about 16 years old and had a vibrant personality. Her legs and feet were seriously malformed, and she couldn't walk. She had ongoing kidney issues as well which complicates her situation, but she was a very bright young woman and knew all about geography, even telling us things about NZ she had learned. 

For some reason this girl had remained in my memory, and I asked about her. The social team have helped her significantly since that time. She needed an operation on her thigh and hip and the team approved funding it, however it proved to be unsuccessful. They had to do a full hip replacement which normally would cost EGP120,000 (US$2,500). The doctor charged only half the normal rate and the hospital didn't charge for anything. They only had to pay for a blood transfusion, the actual hip joint and medication. The devalued pound made it very expensive. It was great to hear she is now much more comfortable.


tough lifeFola came to visit us at the office of the pastor in Al Amal Evangelical Church. Her name means flower but there is no beauty in her life. The family came from a village in upper Egypt some 200 km from Cairo, but her husband died leaving her with nothing, no assets and no income at all. The husband got into gambling and alcohol and sold everything to appease the demons in his habits. She had nothing with which to bury her husband and the church had to pay for everything. She has a spinal condition in two places which affects one leg and an arm. Her son Joseph is 11 years old. Her monthly rent of US$80 is well beyond anything she earns, and she begs for people to give her money to send her son to school and sometimes to eat.

The team members were really touched by her story, they knew it well and were in tears as they heard her tell it again. 


While in Al Amal we visited the family of a man who has head cancer near his brain. The family has been supported by the fund. We climbed to the 7th floor and met him and his family. We were expecting the worst, but we discovered a very strong faith in this man. He has had radiation and chemotherapy and has lost his hair. The cancer was in his lymph glands and near to his brain, but a recent scan shows there is no cancer left. He and his wife live in a small apartment with three children and his mother. 


Partnership's Influence within the Community

It is obvious when visiting those with loans and the families that are being helped that this programme has made a difference in the lives of many people. The pastors of the partner churches are also very grateful for the help they have received and being able to pass on to their people.


Plans for the Future

providing good supportAt our meeting with the team, we discussed what might happen in the future. They are very happy with the amount in the loan fund and expect that it will continue to operate for many years. 40% of the total amount could be used for helping in emergencies and with social welfare. They are concerned that when our funding stops later in the year, they will not be able to continue helping as many people.

The NCEC leaders would love to continue with some support for the social welfare department. This is making a great impact on many lives, although it does not help so much in the longer term with development. However, because the loan programme is still operating there is a case to continue contributing to this programme at some level.


Current Issues and Challenges

As with all our partnerships in Egypt the levels of economic stress are increasing. This is of course affecting the poorest people the most and these are the ones who are being helped through these two programmes.


Prayer and Praise Points

1) So many families have been helped by both programmes. The level of poverty, especially for those needing social help is disturbing.

2) That NCEC has been able to impact the lives of many people through the partnerships they have with suburban churches.

3) For the faithful work of the team members at NCEC. They are high calibre men and women with great commitment and compassion.



I think it would be good to continue helping with the social service part of the budget, probably at a reduced amount. This has been a good partnership in my opinion and has helped many people. 

The five-year term for this programme comes to an end later in 2024 and no more funds will go into the loan programme. The agreement was that 40% of the money could go to the social services team to help the poorest of the poor in emergency situations. The question is whether we should continue to put some funds into that department? Based on the amount in previous years that would be around US$12k.