The first Tunisian mutual fund complying with Islamic sharia law was established yesterday. In a press conference, held at the headquarters of the Stock Market of Tunis, General Director of the Fund of Deposits and Consignment (CDC) Jamel Belhaj announced the creation of “Theemar” as the first Islamic product of its kind in the market of alternative finance in Tunisia.
Capitalized at around 50 million dinars ($30 million), Theemar’s mission is to finance small and medium-sized enterprises with a priority on those located in Tunisia’s interior. “During the first phase, we aim to create up to 30 enterprises providing at least 1,000 jobs,” Belhaj said.
Theemar’s shareholders are CDC, the Islamic Bank of Development, Kuwait Projects Company, and Al Baraka bank.
As impediments to create enterprises are not only financial, the fund plans to provide its clients with technical know-how and support for the first four or five years until they establish a foothold in the market.
Theemar will be made up of a number of committees, including a committee of renowned Islamic scholars and Islamic banking experts who will supervise investments.
Islamic finance currently has a small presence in Tunisia’s financial services sector, with only the establishment of Zitouna Islamic Bank in 2010. Al Baraka is an off-shore Islamic bank that does not provide Islamic financial products within Tunisia.