A Micro Credit success story in Tunisia
Faced with the constant flow of new job seekers, the Tunisian government created, in late 1997, the Tunisian Solidarity Bank (BTS). BTS is a microfinance institution established by Tunisian President Ben to finance private micro-projects in Tunisia.
BTS approves loans of up to USD 9,500, with a maximum annual interest rate of 5%, a loan repayment schedule of up to seven years, and a flexible grace period of three to twelve months. As of January 2005, BTS had supported just under 75,000projects, worth over TND 87.6 million (USD 71.2 million). BTS has the largest shareholding in Tunisia with 62 percent of the bank’s total capital of USD 27 million held by the general public.
The objective of financial institution is to encourage young people to become entrepreneurs and help build a stable source of income. The BTS has developed a micro-credit system in the short and medium terms to its customers, consisting, in addition to graduates, professionals trained in the technical centers or seeking a return to work. Many young entrepreneurs have been able to open garment factories, offices of expertise, craft shops.
Since March 1999, the bank started offering small loans guaranteed by some forty NGOs approved by the State. Capped at 1,500 dinars (1,000 euros), they were intended to finance the purchase of small equipment and raw materials or provide working capital.
Within five years, the BTS has awarded nearly 56,000 credits for a total of 208 million dinars (149 million) that enabled the creation of 79,000 jobs. Over two thirds of recipients under 40, one in three is a woman and one in ten is a graduate. In these loans is added the awarding of 24 000 micro endorsed by NGOs for a total of 20 million dinars (14 million), 35% in favor of small farmers.