The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is scaling up its support to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Tunisia with €10 million of additional funds from the European Union under the Programme d’Appui à la Compétitivité des Services (PACS Programme).
In coordination with the Tunisian authorities, the EBRD Small Business Support team will offer 475 enterprises, including 80 women-led SMEs, tailored advisory services. Tunisian entrepreneurs will benefit from technical support and business advice delivered by local consultants and international industry experts.
The Bank will also implement activities to strengthen the capacities of local institutions and SME support structures in addition to upgrading the service and building capacities for business associations.
Welcoming the launch of direct support to SMEs implemented by the EBRD, Christian Danielsson, the Director-General for EU Neighbourhood and Enlargement, pointed out that "this additional support falls within the broader framework of European Union initiatives to boost the economy and develop the private sector. Our ambition, with the establishment of this vast range of technical assistance for SMEs in the service sectors, is to start preparing Tunisian firms for the imminent opening of free trade negotiations on the service sector between Tunisia and the EU."
Madame Laura Baeza, the European Union's Ambassador to Tunisia, stressed that " over more than 10 years the European Union has already committed nearly 85 million euros to sustaining the development of the private sector in Tunisia: the industrial (PMI, PCAM) and research and innovation (PASRI) sectors in particular have already benefited from our support."
Hildegard Gacek, EBRD Managing Director for the Southern and Eastern Mediterranean, said: “Small businesses are the backbone of the Tunisian economy and are fundamental to the country’s economy. Together with the EU we will work on improving the competitiveness of smaller companies to increase their contribution to the service sector and to the country’s economic growth and job creation.”
The Programme d’Appui à la Compétitivité des Services was established with the objective of reinforcing the service sector focusing on selected subsectors: information and communication technologies, transport and logistics, professional services, tourism and handicrafts – through the provision of advisory services and other interventions.
The EBRD has been investing in Tunisia since September 2012, providing financing to date of close to €250 million in 17 projects. The Bank has also provided technical assistance to more than 150 Tunisian SMEs.