REPORT: Start-up and Expansion Lending for Rural Youth in Tunisia, Learning Report 5
With funding from the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and in partnership with Silatech, Making Cents International implemented the IFAD Rural Youth Economic Empowerment Program (RYEEP), a three-year grant seeking to increase employment and self-employment of young people aged 15-35 in the Near East and North Africa (NENA) countries of Egypt, Yemen, Morocco and Tunisia. The program provided capacity-building and technical assistance to local institutions to pilot models delivering youth-inclusive financial services (YFS) and non-financial services to rural youth and to the enterprises that employ them. By the program's end, RYEEP pilot projects delivered savings or credit services to 20,543 rural youth and non-financial services to 14,252 rural youth.
As important as these quantitative outputs was the knowledge generated by five pilots. Thus, a major focus of the program was to capture and disseminate this learning to help IFAD and financial services practitioners develop more effective and scalable programs for rural youth. The program, which built upon proven and successful methods, advanced learning around five research topics:
• Adapting and Developing Effective Financial Products for Rural Youth
• Determining the Appropriate Level and Delivery System for Supportive Non-Financial Services
• Using Technology to Lower Costs and Provide Youth with Alternative Forms of Finance
• Linking Products or Institutions to Facilitate Movement from Informal to Formal Financial Services
• Designing Innovative Approaches for Scaling Products in Rural Environments
In Tunisia, access to nance and business support remains a major constraint for young entrepreneurs, especially those located in rural areas. RYEEP partner Microcred Tunisie (Microcred) is a new micronance institution that was established to provide nancing for excluded populations, especially youth. Microcred received its license to operate in November 2014 and initially focused on starting up its operations, training staff, and providing loans to youth and adults in urban and peri-urban areas of Tunis. Under RYEEP, Microcred launched activities in peri-urban and rural areas. It researched and began piloting a start-up loan for youth entrepreneurs who are beginning new ventures and provided expansion nancing for existing youth enterprises. While the pilot was intended to generate learning on serving rural youth in general, it was specically designed to develop lessons learned on serving new and inexperienced rural youth entrepreneurs, especially those who intend to develop larger small enterprises as compared to more typical microenterprises.