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Tunis, Tunisia, May 25, 2017
—IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, and the Tunisian Professional Association for Banks and Financial Institutions (APTBEF) hosted a seminar on Monday to help women-owned businesses access the financing they need to grow, profit and create much needed jobs.
The roundtable discussion was attended by the Governor of the Tunisian Central Bank, as well as representatives from leading banks and financial institutions. Among the topics on the agenda were how financial institutions could best support women’s economic empowerment, the challenges and opportunities for women entrepreneurs, and testimonials from other banks in the region.
Micro, small and medium enterprises constitute about 97 percent of all enterprises in Tunisia, contribute about 40 percent to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and employ up to 56 percent of the workforce. But many still struggle to access the capital they need, especially women. While women own 18 percent of all enterprises in Tunisia, 63 percent report they are underserved or unserved by local banks and financial institutions. This has created a financing gap of close to $300 million.
“Banks are shying away from lending SMEs, especially those owned by women,” said Ahmed El Karm, the President of APTBEF. “Our partnership with IFC will help us increase lending to female entrepreneurs, which is vital to drive growth and support the economy.”
Globally, 30 percent of all enterprises are owned by women, with a $260-320 billion estimated credit demand per year. In MENA, the estimated credit gap for women-owned businesses is above $72 billion per year.
“Women entrepreneurs are changing the landscape of the global economy, creating sustainable jobs and driving economic growth,” said Georges Ghorra, IFC Acting Country Manager in Tunisia. “Today’s discussions establish a solid case for investing in women. Extending financial services to them will create much needed growth and jobs, and help banks to benefit from this untapped market.”
To support female entrepreneurs, IFC, through its Banking on Women program, has worked with 26 banks around the globe, providing essential investments and advisory services. IFC has also committed $1.13 billion to finance women-owned businesses globally.
This project was made possible with the support of Switzerland’s State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) and the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development of Canada (DFATDC).
IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, is the largest global development institution focused on the private sector in emerging markets. Working with 2,000 businesses worldwide, we use our six decades of experience to create opportunity where it’s needed most. In FY16, our long-term investments in developing countries rose to nearly $19 billion, leveraging our capital, expertise and influence to help the private sector end extreme poverty and boost shared prosperity. For more information, visit
The Tunisian Professional Association for Banks and Financial Institutions (APTBEF) accounts for 24 commercial banks, two investment banks, eight leasing companies and two factoring companies. APTBEF supports and represents its members’ interests to the Central Bank and public authorities. APTBEF is also the main actor in charge of information policy implementation to raise awareness about the profession and participate in decisions relating to banking activities. For more information visit:
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