ENDA is the first, and still the only, organization to introduce international best- practice micro-credit in Tunisia, thereby ensuring sustainable credit services to increasing numbers of Tunisian micro-entrepreneurs. The programme serves Tunisia’s urban disadvantaged populations, as increasing numbers of Tunisians live in urban areas (more than 60% in 2005), as a result of rural exodus. ENDA is one of the few NGOs operating in urban development within the country, contributing to the reduction of urban unemployment and increasing family wellbeing. In a country where charity-based social programmes are highly developed and there is a strong tradition of non-repayment of government-provided loans, ENDA has achieved a repayment rate surpassing 99% since the inception of its programme. Since it launched its micro-credit program in 1995, ENDA has developed a strong record of innovation and creativity in the delivery of financial and non-financial services to micro-entrepreneurs, constantly adapting its products to its clients’ needs. In terms of innovation in financial services, ENDA is the first MFI to have introduced group guaranteed lending in Tunisia and has distinguished its services from many other MFIs by offering group as well as individual loans. The groups are often mixed and have women as their leaders, enabling women to exchange experience with their male counterparts on the men’s business world. ENDA also offers an innovative set of parallel loans, small amounts that can be accessed by the clients to increase inventory during periods of higher sales or to seize an opportunity requiring quick cash, allowing higher profits. ENDA has recently established disaster loans to cope with unforeseen events such as floods or fire, and a provident fund to support client’s families in case of death or incapacity. Through its non-financial services programme, ENDA has provided female micro-entrepreneurs with opportunities to meet, network and develop their skills together, providing a social safe-haven for them, much like the traditional cafés are for men Business development services include promotional fairs in various areas of the country, allowing women to increase their sales and develop confidence thus contributing to their empowerment. Excursions, sometimes to low-priced areas and sometimes simply to visit the country, as well as get-togethers, serve to promote networking between the clients.
ENDA began its micro-credit programme in Hay Ettadhamen, the largest poor suburb in the country, with only $20 000 USD in capital and a mere 22 active clients. At that time it had no professional experience in micro-credit. Over a period of ten years, it has received just 2 million DT ($ 1,6 million) in grants for lending capital. With this capital, loans to a total value of 34 million dinars ($28,3 million) have been made and nearly 3 million dinars ($2,5 million) have been capitalized. Today, its portfolio has reached 4500 000 USD serving over 17000 active clients. In the past ten years it has granted more than 82 000 loans to Tunisian micro-entrepreneurs. It achieved financial sustainability in 2003: ENDA is one of only 9 sustainable MFIs in the Arab States, and the only one in Tunisia. ENDA continues to expand, bringing its services to a range of poor urban districts across Tunisia. In 2004 it opened four new branches in towns outside of Greater Tunis, and it plans to open another five in 2005. By 2009 ENDA will be able to serve 100 000 micro-entrepreneurs throughout the country with a portfolio of $25 million covering a substantial share of the market. The institution serves as an example to other microfinance actors in Tunisia and neighboring countries.
ENDA’s credit program is directed at helping micro-entrepreneurs escape poverty and vulnerability through empowerment and increased business revenue. Its latest impact study ENDA shows that it has had a significant impact on micro-entrepreneurs (micro-enterprise, household, and community as well as promoting personal empowerment. The main needs of the clients, as micro- entrepreneurs, are for capital, training and assistance with marketing. ENDA provides all these, though its capacity to serve clients with respect to training and marketing remain limited since they are costly and require more staff than can currently be allocated.