EBRD supports small businesses and trade in Tunisia
€49 million financing package to Union Internationale de Banques
AA – Strengthening the competiveness of local enterprises in Tunisia and their integration in wider markets, the EBRD is providing a financial package to Union Internationale de Banques (UIB), a subsidiary of Société Générale.
The package consists of a €40 million loan for on-lending to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and a US$ 10 million trade finance line.
SMEs are the engine of the Tunisian economy, accounting for 90 per cent of all firms and providing 56 per cent of the country’s private-sector jobs. However, their access to finance is limited and significant potential remains unrealised.
The EBRD’s loan will help UIB to double its lending capacity to small firms over the next three years. The credit line will also support UIB in expanding its business outside the capital Tunis which will help to address regional disparities.
At the same time, fostering international and intra-regional trade, the EBRD trade finance line will allow UIB to issue guarantees in favour of confirming banks and provide cash financing for pre-export and post-import financing as well as for local distribution.
The European Union is providing grant support as part of an overall €27.6 million in funding channelled through the EBRD to boost financial inclusion in the southern and eastern Mediterranean region.
Antoine Sallé de Chou, Head of the EBRD office in Tunisia, said: “SMEs are the backbone of the Tunisian economy. We are very pleased to partner with UIB to boost trade and to extend our support to small businesses in Tunisia. This new investment will further contribute to economic growth and increasing job opportunities in the country.”
Kamel Neji, Chief Executive Officer of UIB, said: “It is a great pleasure for UIB to sign this seven-year loan and trade finance line agreement with the EBRD which is in line with our ambitious growth strategy in the SME market over 2017-20. It is the first step in a long-term, fruitful partnership with the EBRD that will benefit our clients and the Tunisian economy.”
Since September 2012, when EBRD operations began in Tunisia, the Bank has invested €350 million through 25 projects in the country. Supporting the regional development of the country outside Tunis is a special priority for the Bank and the EBRD therefore opened a second office in October last year, in Sfax.
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