IFC provides €10 million to Tunisian date exporter VACPA
The International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, is providing €10 million in funding to the Tunisian date processing company VACPA, which will help preserve many jobs, especially for women, during the Covid-19 pandemic.
VACPA, the largest exporter of dates in Tunisia, sources from around 1,000 farmers and employs over 1,700 workers, 80% of whom are women. IFC financing is provided in two tranches: 5.5 million euros in working capital funding to meet the immediate needs of the business and 4.5 million euros to enable VACPA to expand its activities , diversify into the production of date juice concentrate and improve its supply chain.
Agriculture is a key sector in Tunisia, accounting for 10% of the country's gross domestic product and around 10% of exports. In 2019, VACPA exported 13,500 tonnes of dates, mainly to Europe, North America and Southeast Asia. But the Covid-19 pandemic affected both demand and supply within the food industry, placing significant financial pressure on businesses.
“With funding from IFC, we will be able to continue to improve the living conditions of people in rural areas. The advisory services support provided by IFC will also enable farmers to modernize their operations and adopt sustainable farming practices, ”said Mohsen Boujbel, founder and managing director of VACPA.
IFC funding is associated with a consulting services program that aims to support farmers to use irrigation systems that conserve water resources and adopt better farming practices. This program will also enable VACPA to obtain the EDGE (Economic Dividends for Gender Equality) certification which recognizes companies' efforts in creating equal career opportunities between men and women. EDGE is the world's leading standard in methodological assessment and corporate certification for gender equality.
"IFC is working to mitigate the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic so that businesses can continue to operate and continue to pay their employees," said Beatrice Maser, IFC Regional Director for the Middle East and Africa North (MENA). “Our funding will allow VACPA to emerge from the crisis stronger, allowing it to continue to source from smallholders and preserve the jobs of many women in rural areas. "
Since 1963, IFC has invested in over 32 companies in Tunisia. The institution aims to support the development of the country's private sector, create jobs and contribute to the fight against poverty.