Transformative advice and technical assistance

Advisory and technical assistance services play a vital complementary role alongside finance in enabling projects to go ahead, to be successful and to be sustainable. This is true whether the technical support is provided at the very earliest stage of the project process, or whether it is about helping to put the know-how into place to ensure that project implementation produces the expected positive impacts. The following are two examples of TA operations approved in 2017.

Towards a sustainable financial sector in the Caribbean

Financial institutions in Caribbean countries lack capacity in areas such as the monitoring of social performance and the targeting of vulnerable groups. This poses a serious challenge for microfinance projects in the region. This is why the EIB provides capacity building, funded by the Cotonou Investment Facility, to a number of client or prospective client institutions.The training will focus on risk and social performance management, which should enable increased targeting of vulnerable groups and better reporting to improve compliance with EIB processes. This 480-hour training is expected to reach about 50% of the institutions’ staff. Depending on need, a number of “knowledge outputs” – such as anti-money laundering procedures, know-your-customer processes or strategic plans – will be produced for each institution.

In addition, the EUR 4.2m TA operation will include a tailor-made capacity-building programme for final beneficiary microenterprises and other microfinance borrowers. The aim is to form a consortium of reputable international or regional educational institutes to work with local professional bodies and local universities, which will decide on training needs and deliver training on entrepreneurship, business management and financial literacy. This component is designed not only to help microenterprises but also to strengthen local universities and professional bodies through training-of-trainers and the development of local curricula and training materials that they will be able to use in the future.

The EIB will be providing a significant degree of technical expertise to this programme and a considerable amount of time – around 90 days involvement by EIB staff. Its design builds on EIB experience with TA in other ACP countries and replicates the most successful elements. The overarching objective is to maximise the impact of the EIB’s support to microfinance in Caribbean region, with financial institutions better equipped to target social impact, and beneficiaries in a better position to use access to financial services to improve their lives.

Assisting Mediterranean countries in reducing mercury pollution

In cooperation with the UN Environment Programme, the EIB is implementing an “upstream” TA operation to carry out two studies, one in Tunisia and one in Morocco, with the ultimate aim of reducing pollution in the Mediterranean from industrial emissions, particularly mercury. Tunisia and Morocco have recently stepped up their efforts in this direction in compliance with the UN Minamata Convention.

Funded by the Global Environment Facility, and carried out in collaboration with the UN Environment Programme, the 8-month, EUR 47 200 operation will lay the groundwork for an application for a further EUR 7m of project preparation technical assistance under the facility and will produce a reference document on environmental, social and institutional standards.

Ultimately, these preparatory phases could lead to the development of two projects to support the conversion of industrial processes in the plain of Kasserine in Tunisia and the Wadi Martil in Morocco, involving investments of EUR 500m in total. These projects would aim to minimise or eliminate mercury-based pollution and ensure the safe disposal of contaminated material and the rehabilitation of contaminated industrial units.