The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has opened an office in Tunisia.

The bank has also appointed Marie-Alexandra Veilleux as the first head of its operation in the country.

The EBRD started investing in Tunisia in September 2012 and was given government clearance to set up an office in December 2012. Its focus will be on supporting SMEs, restructuring the financial sector, promoting energy efficiency and sustainable energy and facilitating non-sovereign financing for the country’s infrastructure. Tunisia is already a part of the EBRD’s trade facilitation programme (TFP).

Veilleux tells GTR: “Strengthening the financial sector is one of the EBRD’s priorities in Tunisia. This will include, among others, providing financing initially for SME investments, as well as trade facilitation.”

Speaking of the potential investment of commercial banks in Tunisia, Veilleux says: “Both foreign-owned and locally-owned banks have already shown a strong interest for the TFP, in light of crisis and market volatility, market demand and potential. Despite Tunisia’s recent downgrades, we believe in the country’s potential and we are committed to support its long-term economic and democratic transition.”