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Enda Tamweel supports Tunisians through microcredit

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Thirty women are queuing at the Enda Tamweel agency in Mornag, in the suburbs of Tunis. The 140 agencies of the company present throughout Tunisia experience the same daily affluence. “We have seen a 25% increase in demand in recent years”says general manager Mohamed Zmandar.

Created in 1995 by the non-governmental organization Enda inter-arabe, Enda Tamweel today has more than 400,000 customers in a country of 12 million inhabitants. The parent NGO is the main shareholder among several shareholders, including the French company Sidi (International Solidarity for Development and Investment), one of the founders of FAIR.

While the poverty rate rose from 14% to 21% in Tunisia at the end of 2020 after the pandemic, with rising inflation, the use of microcredit is increasing, especially in riskier sectors such as agriculture.

A loan in two weeks

Sawssen K’thiri is one of Enda’s many female farmer clients. A law graduate, she changed careers a few years ago to raise goats. She preferred microfinance to a traditional bank “because the steps were faster and the follow-up closer”. In her orange fields in Mornag, the young woman is proud and enthusiastic about the future.

The first time she borrowed 1,500 dinars (€300), which she obtained in two weeks to pay agricultural workers and take care of her goats. Then the loans followed one another until reaching 30,000 dinars (9,300 €), in order to finance a growing activity and the salaries of his two agricultural workers.

Resist the crisis

At Enda, she only needed a guarantor and to show her project in the field. Today, Sawssen K’thiri is turning to a traditional bank for the first time because it has “need a larger loan to build a guest house dedicated to agrotourism”.

Among the customers, there are also many artisans, such as Henda Boukraieb. This loyal customer runs a craft shop in Tunis. The 50-year-old turned to microcredit in 2004. “Twenty years ago, there was only Enda, and they haven’t disappointed me: they follow their customers closely. »

And in a context of political turmoil, “Enda responds to what the people demanded concretely during the revolution: employment and dignity”, believes Mohamed Zmandar. For the latter, the fact that Enda is the market leader “allows us to have a clear strategic vision and to offer adapted and less expensive services, it allows us to resist during this crisis”, he explains.

Encourage women and young people

Because in his eyes, the crisis is multiple: it comes from “impacts of the war in Ukraine and the pandemic, as well as transitional periods and changes of governments, resulting in a lack of a clear vision for the development of the country”.

To be “next to our customers and adapt the service offer according to these circumstances”, Enda Tamweel also offers non-financial services, such as nail training. To overcome the crisis, the company “seeks cheaper funds and guarantee funds for risky sectors”.

Mohamed Zmandar chose to work in sustainable finance for the human aspect. “It’s gratifying: we start by supporting a poor client and after several years, we directly see the impact on his household, his home. » He sees as a challenge “to serve this vulnerable and excluded population, in disadvantaged areas, and to encourage women, agriculture and young people”.

Enda’s objective now is to make itself more accessible “thanks to digital”. The microfinance institution organizes training to familiarize its clients with this tool. “Already 30% of loan repayments are made by telephone. »

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