TUNIS, April 17, 2014 – The World Bank approved an additional loan for US$100 million for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in Tunisia. This additional support will help finance scaling up a project that has shown good results in improving access to finance for Tunisian MSMEs. It will also add lines of credit for loans to micro-entrepreneurs, and patient financing — that is, long term financing with a grace period — for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).
The objective of the original project was to improve access to finance for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises in Tunisia, enabling previously creditworthy enterprises to maintain access to credit. This will remain the same under the additional financing, but with the two new activities.
With 624,000—or 99.7% of the total number of enterprises in Tunisia—employing around 1.2 million workers—about 44% of the formal private sector work force—MSMEs are the engine of Tunisia’s private sector economic growth and one of the main providers of jobs.
The World Bank’s support will also further the Tunisian government’s aim to improve governance so that the country’s financial sector can play more of a role as a catalyst to growth and job creation through more lending to MSMEs. During a recent visit to Tunisia, Inger Andersen, the Bank’s Regional Vice President for the Middle East and North Africa, said the Bank’s financing in 2014 would include:
- Up to US$750 million in support for government reforms to level the economic playing field and promote growth and job creation, while increasing accountability in the delivery of services to citizens;
- A US$300 million project focused on building the capacities of local government to support provisions on decentralization in the country’s new constitution;
- US$100 million in investment for a credit facility aimed at supporting local banks that give small and medium enterprises much needed access to credit;
- US$50 million for a project designed to promote exports to help identify sectors where Tunisia could be particularly competitive;
- And, as part of continued collaboration with Tunisia’s national water authority, a US$20 million project is scheduled for this year to provide the greater Tunis metropolitan area with another water pumping station.