IFC and Banque de l’Habitat partner to boost access to finance for women in Tunisia
21-02-2019 07:20:29 | by: Pie Kamau | hits: 2750 | Tags:

IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, signed an agreement with Banque de l’Habitat to launch a pioneering project that will help the bank boost financial inclusion for women in Tunisia and launch a digital offering for its customers. 

IFC’s advisory services will support Banque de l’Habitat in setting up a program tailored to female clients, including financial and non-financial services – the first of its kind in Tunisia. The project will also include advice on developing a scalable digital strategy, allowing the bank to offer a new digital experience to its clients. 

“These two projects are critical for the bank. They are part of an ongoing process to improve our transformation and social engagement,” said Ahmed Rjiba, Banque de l’Habitat Managing Director. 

The partnership is part of IFC efforts to help boost access to finance and create economic opportunities for women in Tunisia. Just 28 percent of women in Tunisia are part of the formal financial system. In addition, only 14 percent of micro, small, and medium enterprises are women-owned, with almost half of those having no access to the financial services they need. 

Digital finance is also lagging in Tunisia, with only 2 percent of adults having access to mobile money accounts. There is an enormous potential for growth in this sector. Using technology can help banks expand their reach to financially underserved populations. 

“Financial inclusion is key for the future of the Tunisian economy,” said Riadh Naouar, IFC Manager, Financial Institutions Group Advisory, Middle East and Africa. “IFC’s Banking on Women program helps local financial institutions develop dedicated products and services for women entrepreneurs so they can access the financing they need to grow their business. By using new digital technologies to expand their reach, financial institutions can also drive inclusive economic growth across the country. 

The project is part of IFC’s Women Banking Champions program in the Middle East and North Africa, which is supported by the Swiss Confederation and IFC’s Global Banking on Women program. It aims to help partners and financial institutions serve women-owned businesses profitably and sustainably. IFC has launched 40 projects in 27 countries under the program.