Support to the microfinance sector

Project description

Title: Support to the microfinance sector in Tunisia
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Tunisia
Lead executing agency: Ministry of Finance
Overall term: 2012 to 2017


Only around one third of people living in Tunisia have their own bank account. Large sections of the population have no access to services from formal financial institutions. Although accessible to everybody, informal financial services are typically more expensive, not subject to supervision and are thus exposed to high risks. Particularly for small businesses, exclusion from financial services limits their ability to invest.

In addition to a lack of access to credit, there are few options in rural areas for building up savings or obtaining insurance to cover emergencies.

The social and economic exclusion of broad sections of the population, especially young people, played a key role in the political and social unrest of 2010 and 2011. These causes have not yet been remedied.

Promoting microfinance is one way of tackling marginalisation and exclusion. Access to microfinance services offers people on low income and those facing family emergencies greater economic scope to take action. Moreover, establishing a microenterprise is often the only option available to young, well-educated people in Tunisia looking to start a career. Improving access to microfinance services can help protect a section of the workforce from fluctuations in income and financial emergencies or create additional employment opportunities.

The project supports the Ministry of Finance in developing a new Strategy for Financial Inclusion by 2022. Key elements of the strategy include broadening the offering of financial services, beyond the scope of micro-lending, as well as enhancing the legal and institutional parameters by addressing topics like consumer protection, borrower insolvency protection and risk management as a component of banking supervision.


The offering of microfinance services is strengthened.


The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH is working on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) to advise the Tunisian Ministry of Finance in developing the microfinance sector as well as the new Strategy for Financial Inclusion by 2022. These efforts encompass the following:

  • Expanding the supervisory authority that oversees the microfinance sector 
    GIZ provides advice on the continued expansion of the new supervisory authority overseeing the microfinance sector, the Autorité de Contrôle de Microfinance. Tunisian and foreign investors can now apply for a permit to establish a microfinance institution. The new supervisory authority is tasked with regulating the market entry of new microfinance institutions based on an accreditation process and with continually monitoring such institutions. Consultants with international experience support the supervisory authority.
  • Promoting and scaling up the institutional framework 
    GIZ supports the continued expansion of a credit bureau in order to manage incidences of multiple borrowing and household over-indebtedness.
  • Supporting the modernisation of the financial services sector in order to improve financial inclusion levels in Tunisia 
    The project advises the Tunisian Ministry of Finance in the development of the Strategy for Financial Inclusion by 2020. The strategy encompasses, among other topics, microinsurance, investment opportunities for small savers, improving the coverage of rural areas with financial services, and improving women's access to financial services.


With the project’s support, the supervisory authority has set up an accreditation procedure for new microfinance organisations under which it granted seven licences by year-end 2017.

The establishment of an oversight and reporting system for banking supervision was completed successfully. Apart from regulating the microfinance sector, the system protects the consumer rights of borrowers.

The credit bureau for the microfinance sector is operational and enables sharing of credit data and information on multiple borrowings.

The project has indirectly contributed to the employment of approximately 2,000 people between January 2016 and June 2017.