“The Unfinished Revolution: Bringing Opportunity, Good Jobs And Greater Wealth To All Tunisians.” Development Policy Review. The World Bank (May 2014).

Guest post by Ahmed Hamza, Program Coordinator, WES Tunisia

The entrepreneurship ecosystem in Tunisia is growing fast, with the rise of several initiatives supporting the creation of a vibrant startup economy. In fact, here is a nice ecosystem mapping highlighting and classifying most of the available resources, including the Women’s Enterprise for Sustainability (WES) program.

A recent article on TechCrunch described Tunisia as “MENA’s next Startup Hub” and highlighted the fact that “Tunisian startups are finding ways to improve their society and fix endemic economic problems through innovation and creativity.”

In order for this to become a reality, we as actors in the entrepreneurship ecosystem have to do the three following things:

1/ Join forces and work together:

Several entrepreneurship initiatives, including the WES program, are working very hard to achieve their goals and help their target audiences grow and develop. We focus on women entrepreneurs, other focus on tech entrepreneurs, etc.

However, if we do not join forces to lobby for a safer and positive environment for entrepreneurship and entrepreneurs, we will just be “electrons libres,” small entities that have no power alone! Several laws must change, administrative procedures have to become more flexible, and government should join the movement to help shape the new economy. Together, we can do it, otherwise we will just be “dust in the air,” hoping for change but never really doing it!

2/ Decentralize!

It is great to see so much enthusiasm and support coming from young entrepreneurs in the tech sector. However, if all the initiatives are focused on the capital, Tunis, the rest of the regions will keep being marginalized and this will not contribute to creating a safer and fairer ecosystem where everyone has a chance! This includes the private and non-profit sector, but mainly the government should democratize the internet and take fiber optic technology to the central and southern regions of Tunisia.

3/ Women should be the PRIORITY.

WES is working on advancing economic opportunities for women in Tunisia by:

  • Equipping women entrepreneurs with leadership and practical skills to actively participate as innovative leaders in their communities; and
  • Building the entrepreneurialism and sustainability of local women-focused organizations.

We create a safer and more positive environment for women entrepreneurs in the regions, and we need micro-finance institutions (MFIs), venture capitalists (VCs), and  business accelerators to join us in the mission to help women succeed and thrive.

This is not just a blog post, this is a call to action! Please do not hesitate to contact us at wes@wesglobal.org to learn how YOU can support an equitable new economy in Tunisia!