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Tunisia: Leasing company El Wifack to turn into an Islamic bank

15.10.2014

Tunisian company El Wifack Leasing has announced it obtained the approval of the Central Bank of Tunisia to turn into a bank with a capital of D150 million (€65.8 million).

Tunisian company El Wifack Leasing has announced it obtained the approval of the Central Bank of Tunisia to turn into a bank with a capital of D150 million (€65.8 million).

According to official sources, the bank will be an Islamic finance institution, based in southern Tunisia.

El Wifack Leasing said in a statement that international strategic partners will joined the historic shareholders and will be bound by a shareholders' agreement to be concluded in the coming months.

The company also stresses that it will continue to develop its leasing business.

The announcement comes just weeks after the publication of a report by the International Finance Corporation (IFC), which suggests that the supply of Islamic finance for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the Maghreb region doesn’t match the demand level.

Carried out in nine countries including Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia, the study suggests that 35 per cent of SMEs in the Middle East and North Africa region won’t use traditional banking and financing systems because they are looking for solutions that are Sharia-compliant.

Only 17 per cent of Islamic banks in the region offer products aimed directly at SMEs.

The IFC estimates that this market represents $13.2 billion. The report notes that "to tap the underlying potential, Islamic banks need to build capacity and develop Sharia-compliant products to cater to this emerging sector".