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Essma Ben Hamida

For over 15 years, Essma Ben Hamida travelled extensively as a journalist and UN consultant, specializing in political, humanitarian and development issues. Frustrated with the slow pace of development despite innumerable UN resolutions and development programmes, Essma returned to Tunisia in 1990 and co-founded enda inter-arabe with her British husband, Michael Cracknell. Enda is the largest and pioneer microfinance institution in Tunisia serving 470 000 active clients, 60% women from 108 branches all over the country. Today Essma is chairperson of the NGO enda inter-arabe which offers non financial services including business training and coaching, financial education, support to maketing, diverse cultural and social activities in the most disadvantaged urban and rural areas of Tunisia. Essma received several awards including the distinction of “Outstanding Social Entrepreneur in the Middle East and North Africa” by the prestigious Schwab Foundation and the World Economic Forum (Marrakech October 2010).

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enda inter-arabe
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For-profit Social Enterprise
Youth Perspectives; Entrepreneurship; Sustainable Development
Areas of Impact
Middle East & North Africa, Africa, Tunisia

enda inter-arabe

enda inter-arabe is one of the highest rated microfinance institutions in the world and the only best practice microfinance institution in Tunisia. It has 1,000 staff (over 80% with a college degree) in 65 locations around the country. It serves close to 200,000 active clients, with a gross loan portfolio of over $110 million and a repayment rate of 95% . enda has a five-diamond rating on MixMarket as well as alpha financial rating and an “Excellent” social rating from specialized rating agency MicroRate.

enda provides lines of credit with strong customer service to overcome the dependence mind-set. It provides business and agricultural loans, and specialized products such as education and home improvement loans. Enda also provides business development services to clients, including financial literacy, training, marketing assistance through exhibitions and trade fairs, and onsite counselling services.

To date, enda has distributed over 1 million loans, benefiting over 330,000 borrowers and leading its microentrepreneurs to create at least 25,000 additional jobs. Further impact includes improved school attendance, the empowerment of women, and career coaching and job training for enda’s staff. Enda also has one of the highest budgets among microfinance institutions in the region for capacity building to create a cadre of middle managers, with 90% of their staff coming from the low-income neighbourhoods and villages where enda has branches.

Despite its strong position in the Tunisian market, enda regularly reduces its interest rates to serve its customers better. enda has been actively lobbying for a sustainable microfinance sector in Tunisia to open the market and reach out to the country’s 1 million potential microcredit customers. By expanding into rural areas (50% of its 100 branches by 2015), enda aims to contribute to job creation and the empowerment of rural women. In 2011, enda launched a new product for unemployed youths to create start-ups to contribute to job creation and the economic development of the downtrodden and the remotest areas of the country. enda intends to finance the start-ups of some 20,000 young microentrepreneurs.


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