European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) President Suma Chakrabarti is visiting Tunisia today to sign an accord concerning the opening of a forthcoming office in Tunisia.
Today’s signature means that Tunisia will be the first country in the southern and eastern Mediterranean (SEMED) region to have a permanent representation office.
During his visit, Chakrabarti will meet with several high-ranking officials, including President Moncef Marzouki, Minister of Investment and International Cooperation Riadh Bettaieb, and Central Bank Governor Chedly Ayari. He will also hold discussions with the heads of the largest employers’ union UTICA and business association CONECT.
The official visit comes as the EBRD has started to undertake a full-scale investment in the SEMED region – specifically Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, and Jordan.
In May, EBRD’s shareholders agreed to establish a 1 billion Euro special fund to begin investments in SEMED countries that are going through political transition.
On October 22, Chakrabarti signed EBRD’s first investment, totaling 20 million Euros, in the Maghreb Private Equity Fund III (MPEF III). Regional private equity investor AfricInvest-TunInvest is managing MPEF III, whose goal is to provide equity and debt financing to small-and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). According to the EBRD, the SMEs, targeted by the MPEF III, will be established, family-owned companies that possess the capacity to augment their activities at the regional or even international level.
Chakrabarti assumed leadership of the EBRD on July 3, replacing Thomas Mirow. Today is Chakrabarti’s first official visit to Tunisia. His predecessor, though, met this May with Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali and announced following that meeting that the EBRD would begin investments in Tunisia in September.
The EBRD was originally founded in 1991 with the mission of supporting market economies and liberal democracies in former communist countries through investments in the private sector. In the aftermath of the ‘Arab Spring’ uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East, the EBRD is seeking to increase the scope of its investments in the SEMED region.