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The European Investment Bank (EIB) is confident that the private sector is set to play a key role in reviving growth and employment in Tunisia and has provided a new line of credit worth EUR 50m (TND 110.13m) to AMEN BANK in support of Tunisian industrial and commercial enterprises. The financing agreement entered into between AMEN BANK and the EIB was signed on Thursday 17 September 2015 by Mr Ahmed El Karm, Chairman of the Executive Board of AMEN BANK, and EIB Vice-President Mr Román Escolano.

This is another EIB operation of great socio-economic importance, involving close cooperation with civil society (Réseau Entreprendre) and a key banking sector player (AMEN BANK). Support for development projects can be provided not only to midcaps in Tunisia but also SMEs and micro-enterprises. AMEN BANK undertakes to dedicate 10% of the credit line made available by the EIB to Tunisian micro-enterprises, which will receive a preferential rate of interest. Special attention will be paid to the rapid processing of loan applications and the implementation of rules of good governance within these micro-enterprises. The Réseau Entreprendre association will continue to play a coaching and supporting role for these enterprises and serve as a primary contact for AMEN BANK in order to facilitate access to finance for these micro-enterprises.

"This finance is vital for Tunisia and the Tunisian people and it concerns all enterprises from midcaps to micro-enterprises", stated EIB Vice-President Román Escolano. "Access to finance is crucial for the development and competitiveness of businesses. It will also generate jobs and promote social inclusion. Thanks to a personalised supply of finance, small project sponsors that are finding it difficult to obtain financing can get a loan and be supported. This will enable them to be integrated sustainably in society whilst preserving and creating jobs. Therein lies the value added of the finance that we are providing."

"This agreement will enable Amen Bank to offer MSMEs a wide range of finance from external resources on acceptable terms. It will serve to finance projects in sectors such as manufacturing, tourism, transport, education, health and general services for up to 10 years on terms in line with the domestic market and can cover both the interest rate and foreign exchange risk. Thanks to Réseau Entreprendre's support, quality assistance will also be provided to MSMEs in compliance with the rules of good governance, which will help ensure the sustainability and viability of these enterprises", remarked Ahmed El Karm, Chairman of the Executive Board of Amen Bank.

In view of the current liquidity squeeze, this EIB support for the private sector via innovative partnerships will contribute to the consolidation of Tunisia's banking sector via the diversification of the sources of finance and the long maturities of the lines of credit offered by the EIB, which are increasingly rare on the market. The concrete results of this new line of credit are expected to have a very positive impact on businesses' access to finance and on jobs in keeping with the previous line of credit signed in December 2012 by the EIB. With the support of Tunisia's banking sector (banks and leasing companies), this line of credit enabled more than 500 projects to be financed, thereby helping to create or safeguard more than 2 800 jobs throughout Tunisia.

The EIB, the leading international development financier in Tunisia, has mobilised substantial resources to meet the expectations expressed by the Tunisian people as best it can and thus support the transition of Tunisia. Since the democratic uprising in January 2011, the EIB has invested just over EUR 1.1bn (TND 2.503bn) in the implementation of new projects in key sectors of the Tunisian economy such as energy, private sector support, infrastructure, education and social housing. In the Mediterranean partner countries as a whole, the EIB has invested EUR 5.2bn since January 2011 to meet the region's ever changing needs.