The Entrepreneur Financial Centre in Tunisia is stepping up its contribution to financial inclusion, job creation and economic growth
Lévis (Qc) September 8, 2017 -- According to World Bank estimates, more than half the businesses in Tunisia have insufficient access to financial services. This is what motivated Développement international Desjardins (DID) to set up an Entrepreneur Financial Centre (EFC) in that country. Implemented in 2015, the Tunisian EFC (Centre Financier aux Entreprises - Tunisie S.A.) intends to improve access to secure and affordable financial services for entrepreneurs operating micro and small enterprises, and by doing so, to support job creation and poverty reduction.
New branch office in Sfax
The Tunisian EFC took a large step forward in July when it opened a new branch office outside the city of Tunis. The branch was opened in Sfax, Tunisia's second largest city and an economic powerhouse located in the eastern part of the country. This EFC now has five service outlets. The new branch will provide close assistance services to that area's entrepreneurs to promote self-sufficiency and growth among these highly important economic actors.
High-ranking delegation of women welcomed
Also in July, Lise Thériault, Deputy Premier of Québec, visited the EFC's headquarters in Tunis and was impressed by the organization's success and its positive impact on women entrepreneurs. A group of Quebec business women accompanied the Deputy Premier, including the Chief Executive Officer of Femmessor Québec, Sévrine Labelle, the President and CEO of the Quebec Business Women's Network, Ruth Vachon, the Vice President, Business Development at Desjardins Business, Capital régional et coopératif, Claude Delâge, as well as the Chief Executive Officer of Danièle Henkel Inc, Danièle Henkel.
New financial partner
A few weeks earlier, the EFC had added the IFC (International Finance Corporation), a member of the World Bank Group, as a financial partner. The IFC is one of the largest development institutions focused on the private sector in emerging countries. IFC expertise will assist the Tunisian EFC in consolidating and developing its service offer while at the same time strengthening its risk management and expanding its outreach.
The EFC financial partners now include the AfricInvest Group, The French Development Agency (AFD) and its investment arm, Proparco, the Government of Canada through Global Affairs Canada, and the IFC.
According to figures from June 30, 2017, the Tunisian EFC has 101 employees and is working with more than 1600 entrepreneurs, 30 percent of whom are women. Outstanding loans total 12.6 million Tunisian dinars (CAN $6.8 million), an increase of 105 percent over 2016 results.
DID also set up EFCs in Zambia (2009), Panama (2010), Tanzania (2011) and Uganda (2012) to increase access to financial services for entrepreneurs in these countries.
For 47 years, Développement international Desjardins (DID) has been sharing the experience and expertise of Desjardins Group with developing and emerging countries. Its mission : increasing access to diversified and secure financial services for all and the development of individual and collective wealth. Active in thirty countries on four continents, with a team of over 100 employees, today DID is a world leader in the sector of inclusive finance. The organization works with numerous financial partners, including Global Affairs Canada and various development banks.