Financial Inclusion in Tunisia : Low-Income Households and Micro-Enterprises

Photoman29 l

This paper provides an analytical snapshot of financial inclusion trends and challenges in Tunisia. It follows the recent expiration of the Coordinated Vision for the Development of Microfinance in Tunisia 2011-2014, a national strategy published in 2011. Financial inclusion - a state in which households and businesses have access to a range of financial services that meet their needs: savings, payments services (including money transfer), credit, and insurance – is a critical enabler of economic growth in Tunisia through spurring household economic activity, reducing household vulnerabilities, generating employment amongst micro-enterprises, and contributing to financial stability.

Although Tunisia enjoys a well-developed postal network that provides affordable basic savings services to low-income populations, and has recently made regulatory reforms to its microcredit sector, the overall offer of inclusive financial services in Tunisia remains fragmented, incomplete, and difficult to access. Despite 12 million bank and postal accounts registered, it is estimated that around 30% to 40% of the adult population (i.e. 2.5 to 3.5 million individuals), and more than half the enterprises in Tunisia (i.e. 245,000 to 425,000 registered businesses) remained unserved or underserved by the mainstream financial sector. Looking forward, the technical note outlines policy priorities to address financial exclusion in Tunisia, including the appointment of a high-level champion to advocate for and coordinate a national financial inclusion strategy, as well as capitalizing on market opportunities including digital finance, microfinance, and leveraging the network of the Tunisian Post.