April 16, 2012—It has been a difficult year for businesses in the Maghreb countries of North Africa, including Tunisia and Morocco. Unrest and fallout from the European debt crisis have put a damper on growth
IFC’s strategy in Tunisia places emphasis on inclusion, and focuses on job creation through increased private sector participation and growth. IFC supports Tunisia’s private sector by mobilizing investments which improve investor confidence, expanding access to finance to smaller businesses with a focus on women and youth entrepreneurs, investing in labor intensive and high value-added manufacturing, and improving the quality and access to infrastructure and social services.
In fiscal year 2012, IFC committed around $31 million to Tunisia and our total investment portfolio stands at around $235 million. Our engagement has been predominantly in infrastructure and we supported the first airport concession the country. IFC also supported MSMEs through investments in SME funds, financial intermediaries and microfinance. Since the revolution, we have supported some key private sector projects to help create a positive market signal, mitigate risks and restore investor confidence. They include:
$10 million in support to Amen Bank under IFC’s Global Trade Finance Program to help importers and exporters;
An $8 million investment in Amen Sante, a healthcare provider, to help broaden access to quality private health care for lower-income groups in Tunisia;
A $10 million investment in in Candax Energy, an oil and gas company with Tunisian holdings; and
A $22 million commitment to the Maghreb Private Equity Fund III, which is provides guidance and financial support to small and medium enterprises across North Africa.
IFC’s advisory program will play a key role in improving the business environment, strengthening financial markets, addressing skills mismatches and supporting public-private partnerships in infrastructure. We are:
Building the institutional capacity of Enda Inter-Arabe, a leading microfinance institution, through training in corporate governance and risk management. This will increase Enda Inter-Arabe’s capacity to reach out to micro enterprises, especially those owned by women.
Helping L’Institute Arabe des Chefs d’ Entreprises promote sound corporate governance practices in Tunisia to help private sector companies improve performance and attract investments.
Offering risk guarantees to Amen Bank, under the IFC Global Trade Finance Program, to help Tunisian companies increase cross-border trade, supporting the flow of goods between Tunisia and other developing countries.
We’ve also launched several region-wide initiatives expected to address long-term challenges. They include:
The Middle East and North Africa SME Facility, which is expected to channel $550 million and a host of advisory services to smaller businesses over the next five years;
The Arab Financing Facility for Infrastructure (AFFI) in partnership with the World Bank and the Islamic Development Bank to provide access to long-tenor financing for infrastructure projects;
The e4e Initiative for Arab Youth, which aims to create private education programs tailored to the needs of the job market; and
The MENA Fund, which will help to boost investor confidence and support capital markets in the region.
The Maghreb Private Equity Fund, which is aiming to invest €200 million in small and medium enterprises in Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria, Libya, and Egypt. Target sectors include agribusiness, financial services, packaging, manufacturing, telecoms, and transport.