Sanabel was established in 2002 in Tunisia with 17 representatives from 7 Arab countries. It is the first and only regional network designed to serve microfinance institutions in the Arab world. At this meeting the group adopted by-laws and membership criteria, articulated a vision, mission and objectives and elected an executive committee. At its General Assembly meeting in December 2003, Sanabel members voted to formalize the organization by registering Sanabel.
In 2003, Sanabel was registered as a not-for-profit organization. In 2004, the organization was incorporated and registered in Atlanta, Georgia, USA. In 2005, the network was officially registered in Egypt - where the headquarters is located- under the legal umbrella of the Ministry of Social Solidarity.
Sanabel has 79 members from 12 Arab Countries (Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Sudan, Tunisia and Yemen) and 4 foreign countries (France, Luxembourg, Switzerland and UK).
It is estimated that Sanabel members have served over 3.3 million active clients representing 62% of the region’s overall active clients, with a portfolio of Two billion dollars representing 76% of the region’s overall portfolio by December 2018 (data collected by Sanabel).