Tunisian SMEs still struggling to access credit despite govt efforts

Apr 10, 2012

Financial institutions in Tunisia are only dedicating 13 percent of their loans to small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), although these companies represent 90 percent of domestic businesses.

Financial institutions in Tunisia are only dedicating 13 percent of their loans to small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), although these companies represent 90 percent of domestic businesses.

These are the results of a study by the International Finance Corporation presented last Wednesday (April 4th) in Tunisia during a regional seminar called SMEs, an opportunity for banks in the Maghreb region.

The figures are below expectations, as the Tunisian government has introduced a large range of SME support mechanisms over the past few years, including the creation of several guaranty funds.

President of the Professional Association of Tunisian Banks and Financial institutions Mohamed Habib Ben Saâd believes the difficulty small projects have accessing credit is due to "the absence of a database within banks and financial institutions to identify projects and assess their viability", Babnet Tunisia reports.

He also believes this situation is linked to the lack of transparency on management practices from companies seeking finance.

To improve access to finance for SMEs, Tunisian banks "should develop their capacity to assess projects (risks, yield) and consider the feasibility of a project as a major criteria in their decision making process", Secretary of State at the Finance Ministry Selim Besbes was quoted by African Manager as saying.

He added that an efficient and simple system must be introduced to speed up the creation of innovative projects.

Mr Besbes also recommended the establishment of a positive synergy between the different facilities intervening in SME financing, at project assessment, decision-making and investment monitoring levels.ADNFCR-2976-ID-801336088-ADNFCR