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EBRD opens regional office in south-eastern Tunisia

By Nibal Zgheib

EBRD opens regional office in south-eastern Tunisia

Sfax office will strengthen support for regional development

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is strengthening its outreach in Tunisia with the opening of an office in the city of Sfax in the south east of the country. The office will work closely with the Bank’s representation in the capital city, Tunis, and deepen the EBRD’s engagement in the country.

Sfax is the second-largest economic centre of Tunisia. The local economy is based on a network of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and manufacturing industries. In recent years it has also witnessed the rapid development of the service sector and the diversification of the agricultural sector with the emergence of new areas of investment.

The second EBRD office in Tunisia was opened in the presence of Zied Ladhari, Tunisia’s Minister of Industry and Commerce, Patrice Bergamini, Ambassador of the European Union to Tunisia, Hildegard Gacek, EBRD Managing Director for the Southern and Eastern Mediterranean region, and Marie-Alexandra Veilleux-Laborie, Head of the EBRD in Tunisia.

Minister Ladhari said: “We believe that the EBRD’s Advice for Small Businesses programme will provide an operational response characterised by responsiveness, flexibility and efficiency. The programme, which has proven itself in other parts of the world, will become even more effective by being implemented through the Sfax office.”

EU Ambassador Bergamini said:  “The opening of the EBRD office in Sfax today, as part of the EU-funded PACS programme, will ensure focused, fast and efficient support for SMEs in Sfax and in the southern and inland areas of Tunisia, to enhance their competitiveness and give them the means to access international markets.”

EBRD Managing Director Gacek said: “The opening of a new office in Sfax confirms our commitment to support transition in Tunisia. It will strengthen our activities and we look forward to deepening our engagement in partnership with the government of Tunisia and the European Union who I personally want to thank for their presence today.”

Marie-Alexandra Veilleux-Laborie, Head of the EBRD in Tunisia, said: “Our new office in Sfax will serve as an operational hub and will facilitate the Bank’s presence in the southern region of Tunisia. It will play a key role in accelerating the EBRD's activities in the country and in developing projects that will contribute to the stabilisation of Tunisia’s economy, strengthen the outreach to regional SMEs and promote regional inclusion and job creation.”

The opening of the Sfax office will be followed by the official launch of the EBRD’s activities to support the competitiveness of the service sector (transport and logistics, information and communication technology, professional services, tourism, crafts) within the framework of the Programme d’Appui à la Compétitivité des Services (PACS) in the governorate of Sfax. The EBRD will mobilise its network of local and international expertise to directly support regional SMEs and professional organisations. The Bank will implement advisory projects providing technical assistance in the areas of strategy, organisation, human resources, information systems, quality systems, engineering and export promotion.

The new office will support a broad range of development partnership opportunities with a focus on promoting the Bank’s know-how and best practices. The placement in Sfax is an important step to extend the EBRD’s business reach, identify local partners, boost the creation of high-quality private-sector jobs and develop a resilient economy.

The EBRD has been investing in Tunisia since 2012 and has funded more than 25 projects in the private sector for a total of over €300 million. The Bank has also supported more than 300 Tunisian SMEs with technical assistance

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