The European Investment Bank – architect and shareholder of the first privately managed seed capital fund in Tunisia

Today at its Tunis Office, the European Investment Bank (EIB) hosted the official signing ceremony for the first privately managed seed capital fund in Tunisia. The “Phenicia Seed Fund” is targeted at innovative Tunisian start-ups or firms that are less than five years old. It will support projects launched by individuals, private enterprises, university departments, business incubators or technopoles.

Set up and promoted by the EIB under the Facility for Euro-Mediterranean Investment and Partnership (FEMIP), the Fund was established in association with the Tunisian authorities and CDC Entreprises (Caisse des Dépôts Group). It will be managed by Alternative Capital Partners, a new Tunisian management company headed by Ms Selma Bellagha. The EIB was able to count on the close cooperation of the Tunisian Finance Ministry, which actively supported the introduction of a legislative framework geared to risk capital funds.

The Fund’s capital is TND 10 million (approximately EUR 6 million) and its principal shareholder is the EIB, with 33%, while CDC Entreprises holds 17%. The Fund is a model of North-South partnership since the remaining 50% of the capital has been subscribed by Tunisian institutional investors (Arab Tunisian Bank 20%, Amen Bank 10%, Banque de l'Habitat 10%, Groupe des assurances de Tunisie 5% and Arab Tunisian Lease 5%).

The Fund will benefit from the expertise of an international seed capital specialist, who will assist the management team during its first year of operations and enable it to apply the best international standards in the sector.

The EIB is financing this dual operation (equity participation and technical assistance) via the FEMIP Trust Fund, which was set up by certain EU Member States and the European Commission. This Trust Fund underpins the EIB’s traditional activities, particularly in support of the private sector and job creation in the nine southern Mediterranean partner countries. In this way, the FEMIP Trust Fund enables high value-added risk capital operations to be carried out and technical assistance to be deployed, thus ensuring a transfer of knowledge between North and South.