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Tunisia: Why do banks turn their back to SMEs?

Ibrahim Anane, expert, whom we met at a roundtable on financing SMEs, sees opportunities for job creation, provided that banks get more involved. The banking sector is expected to take the initiative to deal much more with these SMEs by providing them with a good accompaniment.


Can you provide a comprehensive review of SMEs in Tunisia?

Before analyzing the situation, I think it is important to start with the core issue of employment. We need to create jobs and develop new businesses.

Companies today have very important incentives. But the fact is that there are not enough new creations to generate new job positions.


Simply because there is no funding, whereas we see a range of measures and incentives, and funding exists.

The question that arises is whether it is the fault of the banks or the young promoters, or the environment. These questions must be analyzed with relevance.


Personally, I think that if a project is well studied and the developer has the needed skills, the file is bankable and can find the necessary funding.

It is true that we have noted that most banks spend more than 80% of their loans to non-SMEs, that is to say, large companies and major projects. This is a reality about which the World Bank has conducted a study showing that only 13% of loans are granted to small and medium enterprises.

I think this is an action to review by banking authorities, particularly the central bank to give more importance to SMEs, which are considered an asset and a tool to achieve the assigned development and the desired prosperity.

The issue of environment is also raised. Today, SMEs in the regions where they want them to grow find a very difficult environment for their growth, development and to be properly managed. All this scares banks who believe that companies are unable to repay their loans and especially unable to progress.

What are the main findings of the report entitled “Financing SMEs in Tunisia” which was developed by UNIDO?

The essential thing mentioned is the importance of supporting developers and especially SMEs. Today we have nurseries that are responsible for the support, but it is not enough.

Accompaniment must be more proactive. Banks themselves must undertake to support these SMEs.

As an expert in the field, what should be done to encourage the public and private sectors to develop new mechanisms for employment best suited to the specific needs of young unemployed graduates and non-graduates in the different regions, specifically inside the country?

I think we should establish a national voluntary plan especially as we have creative possibilities. But also, you need a general economic environment to be very dynamic in terms of development and that these SMEs revolve around major projects. I think we need to create large projects and SMEs will be developed through these projects.

What are the bases of this proactive plan?

Banks must take the initiative to provide more support to SMEs.


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