Souk At-tanmia celebrates the creation of 100 Tunisian businesses bringing jobs and hope

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On Monday, November 2, 2015, the Souk At-tanmia Partnership held its second awards ceremony at the highly symbolic Bardo National Museum in Tunis. The aim of this event was to deliver a message of hope and to celebrate inclusive employment in Tunisia.

The ceremony, which came after several months of support for the candidates, was a chance to celebrate the creation of 100 new businesses and to recognise the achievements of the second Souk At-tanmia initiative, launched in late April 2014. The festive event was attended by more than 500 guests, including the cohort of entrepreneurs supported through the initiative, as well as representatives of various public and private stakeholders from the world of entrepreneurship. Delegates from numerous civil society organisations across Tunisia were also in attendance to learn more about the projects and to lend their support to the winners.

Tunisian entrepreneurs and small business owners take centre stage

The event began with a showcase of the winning projects, with the aim of giving the winners maximum exposure and encouraging discussions between the participants. The venue hosted a photography exhibition, entitled Art and Crafts, organised in conjunction with the School of Science and Design Technologies. The exhibition was intended to showcase the country’s craft heritage and to demonstrate the talent of the school’s students, as they prepare to enter the job market.
“Today, we celebrate the creation of 100 new Tunisian businesses, bringing jobs and hope,” said Jacob Kolster Director, North Africa Region at the African Development Bank (AfDB), during his opening address. “This ceremony is testament to the strength of the Souk At-tanmia Partnership and its ability to bring together stakeholders from across the world of entrepreneurship, offering coordinated support to Tunisian entrepreneurs and helping to promote employment in the country.”

The ceremony was attended by Zied Ladhari, Tunisian Minister for Employment and Vocational Training, Hamish Cowell, Ambassador of the United Kingdom to Tunisia, and Daniel H. Rubinstein, Ambassador of the United States to Tunisia. All three applauded the Partnership’s efforts to stimulate entrepreneurship and its ongoing commitment to combating unemployment in Tunisia and, therefore, to supporting the country’s socio-economic development.

Transparency and competitiveness

The candidate selection process for this Souk At-tanmia initiative was launched in July 2014, with a more rigorous approach introduced for this second edition. The process involved a number of separate phases, with a view to providing more effective support to the candidate entrepreneurs and to ensuring that the initiative produced high-quality projects with the potential to create jobs. 

The projects were assessed by national and international experts representing all members of the Souk At-tanmia Partnership, including partner banks and financial investment institutions. The selection criteria covered the quality and viability of the project, its commercial viability and technical feasibility, and its job creation potential. Other criteria included the project’s innovative potential, its positive impact on the environment and its local area, and the entrepreneur’s background (young person, unemployed person, woman) and motivation.

A total of 1,400 applications were submitted. Following a highly competitive and transparent selection process, a total of 100 winning projects were identified, having finalised their funding plans. 

“I am moved and honoured to be part of this celebratory event at this iconic venue, and to have been selected as one of the winners of the Souk At-tanmia initiative,” said Sondos Bannouri, a female entrepreneur from Seliana in northwestern Tunisia. Despite holding a master’s in Quantitative Social Research, the 35-year-old had been unemployed for four years. After completing a course on green jobs, she decided to submit her project, “DASRI Sterile”, to the Souk At-tanmia initiative. Her business idea focuses on the collection and treatment of hazardous sanitary waste in her region, to tackle the associated infection risk. “Taking part in the Souk At-tanmia initiative has given me new hope and enabled me to raise additional funding from municipalities in my region. I also received support from the Centre for Innovation in Local Government (CILG VNGi) to help me finalise my funding plan,” added Bannouri. “I now plan to press ahead with my project and to contribute to the growth of my region in northwestern Tunisia.”

Creating sustainable jobs through collaboration and cooperation

This awards ceremony was the culmination of several months’ work, involving assistance and support for the candidates to strengthen their managerial capacities, fine-tune their business plans and help them raise the funds they needed to launch their projects. As well as the financial experts and coaches provided by members of the Souk At-tanmia Partnership, the initiative also received extensive support from partner banks and other financial investment institutions and initiatives, with a view to maximising the funding approval rate. This collaborative approach, involving coordinated assistance from all members of the network, was designed to create a more favourable environment for entrepreneurship in Tunisia. Souk At-tanmia also strengthened its cooperation with public bodies and entities in order to accelerate the approval process and to gain essential public funding for certain projects.

100 new Tunisian businesses bringing jobs and hope

The 100 winning projects included strong representation from young people aged 18-35 (66% of the projects), women (36%), unemployed people (50%) and disadvantaged regions of the country (50%). These projects are expected to create an estimated 800 new jobs. The winning projects also represent businesses in a diverse range of sectors, including agriculture and food-processing, manufacturing, handicrafts, tourism, information and communication technologies, renewable energies, services, health and education. The total cost of the projects stands at 11 million Tunisian dinars (TND). Souk At-tanmia will disburse total grants of TND 3.6 million to the winning entrepreneurs, to provide an additional capital boost to their businesses. The Partnership has also raised TND 3.6 million from banks and TND 4.23 million from other funding sources.

In addition to a grant of up to TND 50,000 per project, the Souk At-tanmia winners will also be entitled to additional technical support in 2015 and 2016, helping them to access markets and secure the long-term viability of their projects.

Congratulations to the 100 winning projects of the second Souk At-tanmia initiative!

More information about the winners and their projects can be found here.
About Souk At-tanmia: The Souk At-tanmia Partnership was launched in July 2012, bringing together development institutions, public and private sector stakeholders and Tunisian civil society organisations with the aim of combating unemployment in Tunisia. Souk At-tanmia seeks to create new opportunities for disadvantaged entrepreneurs, by helping them to set up their own businesses. The Partnership offers an integrated assistance package, including funding (in the form of grants) and support services, to help Tunisian entrepreneurs overcome the financial limitations and capacity gaps they face. 

About Souk At-tanmia’s partners: African Development Bank (AfDB), Banque de Financement des Petites et Moyennes Entreprises (BFPME), British Council, Banque Tunisienne de Solidarité (BTS), Centre des Jeunes Dirigeants d’entreprise (CJD), Confédération des Entreprises Citoyennes de la Tunisie (CONECT), Danish Government, United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID), Government of the United States of America, Education For Employment (EFE), Association des Tunisiens des Grandes Ecoles (ATUGE), Microsoft Tunisia, Mediterranean School of Business (MSB), International Organization for Migration (IOM), United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Talan Tunisia, Tunisie Place de Marché (TPM).

Affiliated organizations and collaborators: Agence de Promotion de l’Industrie et de l’Innovation (APII), Pragma Corporation (USAID), Tunisia e-business Network (CCIT)