The support project “start-ups and innovative SMEs” was launched in May 2019, with the signing of the project contract between Caisse des dépôts et consignations (CDC) and the World Bank (WB), followed by the signing of the contract for loan, in January 2020, between the Tunisian government and the World Bank. It is part of the national program “Tunisia start-up”, under the supervision of the Ministry of Communication Technologies and Digital Transformation and the Ministry of Economy and Planning.
The support project “Start-ups and Innovative SMEs”, mainly financed by the World Bank, aims to catalyze the creation and development of innovative start-ups and SMEs, while stimulating economic and employment prospects for young Tunisians. The project is carried out by CDC, in collaboration with “Smart Capital”, and notably allows the creation of key entities in charge of establishing a viable pipeline for future investments.
In this context, Nejia Gharbi, acting director general of Caisse des dépôts et consignations (CDC), stated that this program revolves around two main components, namely equity and quasi-equity financing for innovative start-ups and SMEs and ecosystem support and to companies for start-ups and innovative SMEs. The CDC financed the first component by subscribing to the fund of funds called “Anava” for 40 million euros, for a target size of 200 million euros, as well as the subscription of 17 million dollars in the “Innovatech” fund. to a target size of 34 million dollars. The essential objective of the “innovative start-ups and SMEs” project is to strengthen the holistic dynamics of support for innovative start-ups and SMEs, including, in particular, those managed or supported by women or located in the interior regions of the country .
Mobilization of investments private
For his part, Alexandre Arrobbio, country manager of the World Bank in Tunisia, revealed that “the project to support the creation and innovation of SMEs” is financed by the WB in the amount of US$75 million. The project focuses on mobilizing private investment and is aimed not only at innovative start-ups and SMEs with high growth potential, but also at players in the entrepreneurship ecosystem.
The Fund of Funds project, named “Anava”, was launched in March 2021 with a base investment of US$45 million and a fund of funds to support all growing start-ups, while the “Innovatech Fund”, launched in February 2022, dedicated to financing innovative SMEs, started with a first CDC subscription worth US$17 million.
Through this specialized fund, the project will provide Tunisian SMEs with quality financing and technical support to strengthen the technological innovation needed to improve their productivity and reduce their costs to position themselves internationally.
Furthermore, Arrobbio added: “Through its various components, we believe that this project plays an important role in the post-Covid recovery of the Tunisian economy, but also in the ongoing effort to create jobs.” “The WB is among Tunisia’s most important partners to support the private sector.
We believe that economic recovery and the development of the private sector in general are very important for Tunisia and especially in the post-Covid period”, he added. The program’s mission is to support the entrepreneurial ecosystem by catalyzing the creation and growth of young innovative SMEs.
“In Tunisia, access to finance continues to be a constraint for start-ups and innovative SMEs. We are trying with the government and the CDC, but also with the banking sector, to support the SMEs that are the growth of tomorrow.
This cooperation with the Tunisian government made it possible to improve the competitiveness of the logistics chain and also to develop exports, namely of services. This project will also indirectly contribute to the internationalization of Tunisian companies”, concluded Alexandre Arrobbio.