EBRD and donors support leasing company CIL in Tunisia

By Volker Ahlemeyer

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Fish processor Sidi Jabeur benefits from leased equipment

Mahdia is a traditional fishing town on Tunisia’s Mediterranean coast where local fishermen bring their catches to the local market and sell them to residents and restaurants.

Food and agricultural producer El Hana has used the town’s location to its advantage, to process fish. The products, known locally under the Sidi Jabeur brand, are extremely popular. In total, the company makes 1,500 tonnes of canned tuna each year and 1,200 tonnes of sardines.

At the production line, workers busily take the fish apart, separating the flesh from the bones.

Others deliver, stock or boil the fish, operate the large machines or take samples to test the final canned product.

Expanding business through leasing services

From freezers to production lines and vehicles, El Hana depends on modern equipment. The company obtained this equipment through a contract with leasing operator Compagnie Internationale de Leasing (CIL).

“CIL is one of the largest leasing companies in Tunisia, with 10 offices across the country,” said Ahmed Chikhaoui, Client Relationship Manager at CIL. “We mainly operate in the commercial sector, agriculture, services and vehicle rentals.”

El Hana deliberately chose to lease its equipment. It became the most viable solution, explained Abdelmonem Necibi, the factory’s director. The company’s priority is to have the necessary funds available to buy tuna and sardines immediately when they are on the market. Leasing equipment, freezers and vehicles was the most affordable option.

El Hana produces the highly popular Sidi Jabeur brand and makes 1,500 tonnes of canned tuna and 1,200 tonnes of sardines each year. The company decided to lease its freezers, vehicles and other equipment.

 

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Boosting the local economy

The fish producer is one of several hundred companies that have benefited from an EBRD investment and donor support. The Bank provided loans totalling €30 million to CIL, allowing the leasing company to expand its portfolio.

This has had a tangible impact on the businesses leasing machines, equipment or vehicles, such as tour bus operators in the tourism sector, car rental agencies and agricultural producers.

“We also benefited from technical assistance,” said Ahmed. “This helped us improve our risk management by creating a scoring system, our corporate governance and also to prepare our accounting in line with International Financial Reporting Standards.”

The Southern and Eastern Mediterranean Multi-Donor Account supported this project. The contributors include Australia, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, SpainSweden, Taipei China and the United Kingdom.

Business growth and new job opportunities

Improvements such as those made by El Hana have an extensive effect on the local economy. The leasing operator has supported an increasing number of companies in Tunisia that would not have otherwise had access to finance.

Furthermore, a business like El Hana can expand its operations. This provides new employment opportunities for locals, both within the company’s factory and in the wider economy. Its sardines, for example, are sourced from ports across the country, so the producer’s success also benefits fishing communities in Tunisia.

It is the combination of these elements – providing finance to businesses so they can expand, helping them meet international standards and extending support to new sectors – which opens up new opportunities for people and helps the economy to grow in Tunisia in the long run.

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