Small and Medium Enterprise Finance in Tunisia. In Tunisia, Connexus serves as a subcontractor to Chemonics International on the $59 million USAID Jobs, Opportunities and Business Success (JOBS) Activity, which looks to create 70,000 jobs by the end of the project. As of the end of September 2020, JOBS had facilitated $86 million in new investment (debt & equity), serving 3,015 beneficiaries (28% female). In addition, JOBS has created almost 5,000 new jobs in Tunisia to date. The project is working through multiple pathways to strengthen the competitiveness of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to catalyze job creation within the country. As access to finance is often a main obstacle for SME growth, Chemonics brought in Connexus to provide both long- and short-term support to overcome this challenge from the demand and supply perspectives. Connexus’ long-term Financial Services Specialists lead the project’s objectives for SMEs access to finance and investment, including conducting operational diagnostics and guiding financial institutions to improve their processes for analyzing and investing in SMEs. In 2019, Connexus facilitated more than $11.6 million in new SME finance and investment. In response to COVID-19, the Government of Tunisia requested assistance from JOBS in April 2020 to develop models, policies, and systems to operationalize an Emergency Fund and five sub-funds. Connexus’ technical advisors elaborated the investment strategy and negotiated the terms for the Emergency Fund, as well as its governance and operational models, financial and administrative policies. In addition, we supported the development of legal and regulatory documents, a placement memo, business plan and prospectus. With a fundraising strategy in place, and a contribution of 40% of the capital from CDC, the Emergency Fund was ready to launch in July 2020. Connexus also worked with BTE Bank and the Tunisian Leasing Company to develop strategies to support their SME portfolios in the wake of COVID-19. To promote digital finance, the Access to Finance team supported development of software applications for three partner financial institutions. The ATF team helped to develop virtual branch network for the Bank of Tunisia and the Emirates (BTE), a digital loan application and document management system for the Tunisie Leasing and Factoring (TLF) and an automated credit scoring system for the Small and Medium Enterprise Finance Bank (BFPME). In addition, the ATF team supported development of an online digital investment platform JoussourInvest to improve the efficiency and accelerate the flow of finance to SMEs. This digital marketplace matches SMEs with equity and quasi-equity investments from venture capitalists allowing businesses to grow, investors to exit, and improving liquidity in the private equity system. The JoussourInvest platform is expected to become one of the largest investment facilitation tools in Tunisia.
Client: Chemonics International; 2018-2021
“The project delivers targeted firm-level assistance to businesses to accelerate growth and create jobs. Additionally, JOBS improves the employability and skills of Tunisian job-seekers based on demand-driven enhancements of Tunisia’s vocational training system.” – USAID Tunisia JOBS webpage