EBRD supports microfinance in Tunisia

By Nibal Zgheib

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The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is stepping up its support for micro and small enterprises (MSEs) in Tunisia with a Din 11 million loan (€5 million equivalent) to Enda Inter-Arabe, the oldest microfinance institution in Tunisia. This loan has been arranged under the EBRD’s Local Enterprise Facility (LEF), and includes a technical assistance programme aimed at developing specialised financing products.

Enda Inter-Arabe will lend the funds to MSEs, primarily targeting borrowers in rural areas and in the agricultural sector. Supporting MSEs will also contribute to the job creation and the development of poor regions.

Francis Malige, EBRD Director for Financial Institutions in the southern and eastern Mediterranean (SEMED) region, said: “The EBRD is delighted to work with an institution that is committed to improving the lives of Tunisian citizens who are on low incomes and also to empowering women. This is our first loan to a microfinance institution in Tunisia. We expect it to make a difference in the lives of many people, contributing to job creation, local development and the empowerment of women in the workforce.”

“Enda Inter-Arabe are very glad to have developed this first partnership with the EBRD”, said Essma Ben Hamida, Enda’s Executive Director. “This loan will support our expansion in isolated rural areas where 40 per cent of our activities already take place. We hope this will mark the beginning of a long and fruitful relationship.”

Technical cooperation funding worth €230,000 from the SEMED Multi-Donor Account* will be provided to support loans to MSEs, including additional training and further development of financing products tailored to rural borrowers.

Enda Inter-Arabe, which began offering micro-credit in Tunisia in 1995, is the country’s main source of such financing. It is the only non-governmental microfinance institution in Tunisia to follow internationally-recognised good practices. Enda Inter-Arabe is currently serving 240,000 micro-entrepreneurs from 77 branches across the country.

Since September 2012, the start of EBRD operations in Tunisia, the Bank has invested €113 million across nine projects in the country.

*Donors to the SEMED MDA include Australia, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

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