Small and Medium Enterprise Finance in Tunisia (2017-2023). In Tunisia, Connexus serves as a subcontractor to Chemonics International on the $69.6M USAID Jobs, Opportunities and Business Success (JOBS) project, which seeks to create 70,000 new jobs by the end of the project. As of the end of September 2020, JOBS had facilitated $86M 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, Connexus is helping overcome this challenge from the demand and supply perspectives. Connexus’ long-term Financial Services Specialists lead the project’s objectives for SME access to finance and investment, including conducting operational diagnostics and guiding financial institutions (FIs) to improve their processes for analyzing and investing in SMEs. In 2019, Connexus facilitated more than $11.6M in new SME finance and investment.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government of Tunisia requested assistance from JOBS in 2020 to develop models, policies, and systems to operationalize a $255M Emergency Fund and five sub-funds. These funds provide equity, mezzanine finance, and cash-out investments for a broad range of SMEs impacted by COVID. Connexus developed the investment strategy and negotiated the terms for the Emergency Fund, as well as its governance and operational models, and financial and administrative policies. In addition, Connexus supported the development of legal and regulatory documents and developed a fundraising strategy.

To further support the recovery from the pandemic, JOBS partnered with leading microenterprise institutions Baobab Tunisie and Advans Tunisie to mobilize blended grant and loan financing to support Tunisian micro and small enterprises and women-owned businesses in underserved regions across Tunisia. Blended funds worth $31.5M reached 13,200 SMEs and supported 17,300 jobs. USAID grant funding of $3M leveraged private funding from MFI partners totaling $28.5M, with a leverage ratio of $9.5 in private money for every $1 of US Government funds.

To promote digital finance, Connexus supported development software applications for four partner FIs, helping develop a virtual branch network for the Bank of Tunisia and the Emirates, creating a digital loan application and document management system for the Tunisie Leasing and Factoring, designing an automated credit scoring system for the Small and Medium Enterprise Finance Bank, and upgrading credit processes, value chain finance, and operations for Zitouna Tamkeen. Through its support for digital financial services, JOBS leveraged more than $48M in new loans to more than 2,000 microenterprises and SMEs. Connexus also 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 now one of the largest investment facilitation tools in Tunisia, offering an alternative channel for investment transactions and facilitating $12.4M in equity transactions.

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

Participants from ZTM work with Connexus’ Vice President of International Programs, Todd Crosby, on value chain financial product development, June 2019
Participants from the improved benchmarking and credit scoring systems training, August – November 2019