1. Could you briefly introduce ATIC?
The Tunisian Private Equity and Venture Capital Association (ATIC) is a private, non-profit organisation founded in 2004 for the purpose of uniting all the private equity firms in Tunisia and representing them vis-à-vis the public authorities. To date, ATIC comprises of 45 active members [the Risk Capital Investment Company (SICAR) and high risk venture capital mutual investment fund companies (FCPR)] and 6 associate members engaged in investment capital related initiatives (Banks, Risk management firms, lawyers, chartered accountants, etc.).
ATIC is the only professional association specialising in capital investment in Tunisia. Our mission is to promote the private equity industry, on a national and international scale, through:
- Representing the investment capital profession vis-à-vis the public authorities and national bodies;
- Promoting and developing the private equity industry in Tunisia;
- Having the ability to take the initiative on all the regulations governing the private equity business;
- Collecting relevant data on the industry and producing statistical data; - Organising trainings for private equity professionals through the Training Centre for Private Equity and Venture Capital (CFIC);
- Ensuring compliance to the code of conduct rules among members;
- Working towards the development of the industry and its conduct.
In addition to its missions, ATIC has set itself the following goals:
- To boost private investment by providing capital resources;
- To support in minimising the risk profile of companies in Tunisia, and enhance their profitability and competitiveness through a balanced financial structure;
- To provide strategic support to enterprises and contribute to their good governance;
- To assist in the creation and support of innovative projects with a strong technology component;
- To foster the growth, development and renewal of the Tunisian economic fabric;
- To promote the spirit of entrepreneurship in Tunisia; and
- To contribute to improving national productivity.
2. What are some of your major achievements and lessons learnt?
ATIC has organised seminars, round tables, lecture-discussions, workshops, etc. to ensure the promotion of the activities of the association and the training of its members, as well as participating in a number of national events. Over the past few months, we have also undertaken advocacy initiatives with the regulators (DGF, DGELF and CMF) and international bodies (AFD, World Bank, BEI, etc.), and raised awareness on the main challenges encountered by venture capital firms in Tunisia in their day-to-day activities, and of the necessity to improve the legal and fiscal framework. ATIC has also built up cooperative relations with its European and African peers.
Amongst our most notable achievements, we contributed to the extension of the deadlines for using the resources made available to the SICAR and the FCPR for 2013 (article 18 of the 2013 budget law); and also towards the publication of the statistics survey on Investment Capital in Tunisia for 2012 in partnership with Deloitte, which is currently being updated. ATIC has also produced a standard shareholders agreement in collaboration with lawyers from Tunisia and abroad, with several options for the most often negotiated clauses. Currently, the association is working introducing new financial instruments to facilitate the structuring of venture capital deals.
3. Could you describe some key challenges ATIC is facing?
Major challenges remain to be met in order to allow ATIC to achieve its main goal - which is to foster the development of entrepreneurship via access to capital. The main challenges revolve around the strengthening of the regulatory framework - although efforts have already been made in this area such as the introduction of appropriate new financial instruments, widening the scope of activities, and the extension of investment timelines. These actions will also require the strengthening and/or revision of the legal framework to encourage capital investment.
Furthermore, certain challenges or difficulties are directly related to the sector and therefore require action from ATIC to help to overcome them. Among these challenges include:
- The limited local capacity to raise funds;
- The constraints imposed on the SICAR in terms of the use of available resources;
- Identification of efficient, innovative and viable projects;
- Insufficient human and financial resources to perform "due diligence";
- The lack of transparency and the lack of reliable financial and market statistics;
- Limited options in the use of the financial instruments;
- Time-consuming follow-up of companies due to the lack of availability of efficient information systems;
- The practical limits of stock exchange exit strategy mechanisms, although the number of new listings (IPOs) on the alternative exchange has risen considerably over the past few months.
4. In what ways can the Partnership for Making Finance Work for Africa (MFW4A) support ATIC's work?
ATIC works with several partners at the national, regional and continental levels, but a partnership with MFW4A could further significantly contribute to the actions of the Association due to its extensive network of partners, both on a continental scale and internationally. MFW4A could disseminate through its platform, information related to ATIC's activities, and also advocating for and promoting venture capital initiatives, which is an essential tool for financing enterprises throughout the different stages of their development.