Microfinance as an important motor for development in Tunisia
In Tunisia, 30-40% of the adult population (2.5 to 3.5 million people) and over half of businesses have limited or ill-adapted access to financial services. To address this gap, the development of the microfinance sector has been at the centre of the national growth strategy since 2011 with the aim of creating a microfinance sector which is responsible, regulated and sustainable so as to contribute to overall economic growth. Advans Tunisie, which opened its doors to the public in 2015, is one of the eight microfinance institutions which exist today on the market. The sector serves in total 360,000 clients for a credit portfolio of around 640 million Tunisian Dinars (TND). Advans Tunisie’s mission is to widen access to simple, responsible and tailored loans for Tunisian small and medium businesses and farmers. An affiliate of the leading international microfinance group, Advans, the institution has just celebrated its 10,000th client and has a loan portfolio of almost 50 million TND. Advans is present in Tunis, Beja, Jendouba, Kairouan, Nabeul, Sousse and Zaghouan and has just launched two branches in the south at Gabès and Médenine. At the end of 2019 the institution will cover almost the whole of the country.
Loans tailored to the needs of small businesses
“The 10 thousand Dinars that I borrowed at Advans helped me to grow my team and renovate my agency”, Advans Client, Manager of a Communications Agency
Advans Tunisie serves mainly urban entrepreneurs working in trade and services, offering them productive loans ranging from TND 500 to 20,000. Unlike other actors on the market, Advans Tunisie supports intermediate sized businesses and aims to become the preferred partner of Very Small Enterprises (VSEs) in Tunisia, with the support and experience of the Advans Group. Advans performs a thorough analysis of the needs and reimbursement capacity of its clients according to their income and expenses. Today Advans Tunisie offers its entrepreneur clients the opportunity to benefit from other complementary loans to improve their living conditions such as school loans to pay fees and school materials, or housing loans for work on their homes.
…And special offers for farmers
Advans Tunisie also aims to serve farmers who are unbanked or ill-banked in rural zones where there is a high potential for impact. Advans agricultural loans are adapted to the seasonality of agricultural activities, with flexible repayment dates. After a 12 month pilot the institution has a total agricultural portfolio of TND 1.5 million. This product will be rolled-out to all rural branches in October 2018. Up until now, farmers have given positive feedback on Advans: they like the close proximity of the branches, the service quality and appreciate the flexible repayment conditions. In 2019, Advans will look to improve its agricultural offers, using a sectorial approach to better tailor its services to farmers and their commercial partners.
Clients at the centre of Advans Tunisie’s mission
So as to ensure that services are delivered in a responsible manner, Advans Tunisie focuses on the quality of its customer service and having a positive social impact. The institution actively analyses client feedback and adjusts its services and products according to clients’ comments. Clients also have the opportunity to participate in financial education sessions which aim to build their awareness on good financial practices, with a specific focus on managing debt and saving. A survey showed that 95% of clients said they had changed their financial behaviour after these sessions.
A promising future
Advans Tunisie’s activities are growing strongly, boosted by the dynamism of Tunisian entrepreneurs. One of the key objectives of the institution is to promote financial inclusion for those who have a limited access to traditional financial services notably with the launch of new solutions like mobile banking. In five years’ time, the institution hopes to serve more than 40,000 clients with a loan portfolio of more than TND 280 million. Through increasing its proximity to clients and making its services accessible to all, the Advans Group will improve its impact on the Tunisian economy and especially on the businesses and lives of its clients, in Tunisia and in all the countries where it operates.
This is a translation of the original French article published on Jeune Afrique