Private-sector moves keep Tunisia's Islamic finance hopes alive

Tunisia's Amen Bank launched two Islamic mutual funds this week, managed by Tunis-based United Gulf Financial Services-North Africa. Moreover, El Wifack Leasing said it had received central bank approval to become the country's third full-fledged Islamic bank, with 150 million dinars ($80 million) in capital, adding the firm would bring international shareholders to the venture. These are welcome steps for the industry which has been waiting for the government to issue a debut Islamic bond. Meanwhile, the Islamic Development Bank teamed up with Tunisia's newly created sovereign wealth fund, Caisse de Depot de Tunisie, to set up a $30 million fund to support local businesses.