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AfDB’s Souk At-Tanmia Pilot Project Filmed for 12.12.12: One Day on Earth


For the first time, on December 12, 2012, the African Development Bank Group participated in the global film event One Day on Earth, showcasing its Souk At-Tanmia Pilot Project, the largest mobilization of partners in support of job creation, innovation and entrepreneurship in post-revolution Tunisia.

The One Day on Earth project, which takes place each year on numerically aligned days – 10.10.10 in 2010; 11.11.11 in 2011 and this year on 12.12.12, the twelfth day of the twelfth month of 2012 – captures on film and in images human experiences around the globe. International organizations, NGOs, and engaged global citizens participate in the event, contributing their footage captured on one day only, to a bigger feature film project, which tours the globe.

On Wednesday, the AfDB’s Communications team mobilized a Tunisian film crew to capture the essence of Souk At-Tanmia, or “Market for Development” in Arabic. Now in its first year, Souk At-Tanmia aims to generate hope and reduce unemployment and inequity in Tunisia through a project in which entrepreneurs receiving funding and technical support to assist them in launching a business.

Five months earlier, on July 12, 2012, the AfDB launched the Souk At-Tanmia initiative, in collaboration with 18 partners representing the public and private sectors, academia, civil society and international development agencies. After nearly six months and further to a call for proposals, which attracted around 2,000 proposals from across the country, 71 finalists were selected by a committee composed of international and Tunisian experts from the various partner organizations, to receive up to 30,000 Tunisian dinars (around US $20,000) in funding to be used to either cover the totality of the project or to complete the equity contribution of the project beneficiaries upon a loan application. The latter triggered a leveraging effect, by multiplying up to five times the volume of funds raised on this project, thanks to the participation of Tunisian banking institutions focused on SMEs and microfinance (BFPME and BTS).

In addition, beneficiaries will receive a coaching program for at least one year according to partners’ areas of expertise.

Nejib Sabri Chaïeb, 58, was one of 71 beneficiaries of the first Souk At-Tanmia Project, for his fair-trade carpet-weaving project in the Tunisian interior that will eventually employ at least 60 artisanal carpet-weavers, all of whom are women. His carpet-weaving initiative, Artisans de Kroumirie, is located in Aïn Draham, in northwestern Tunisia, and aims to revive a dying art by enabling the craftswomen to earn a decent living.

During the day of filming for 12.12.12: One Day on Earth, Chaïeb met with the African Development Bank’s Souk At-Tanmia Program Coordinator and Tunisia Country Economist, Emanuele Santi, as well as Sonia Barbaria, Souk At-Tanmia Communications Officer, in the medina of Tunis to discuss his carpet-weaving project. Chaïeb expressed his satisfaction with the much-needed support of the AfDB and its partners, which is providing hope in a time of uncertainty for the country.

Omeima Ben Dhieb, a traditional Tunisian carpet-weaver who works in a carpet shop in the heart of the medina, demonstrated the techniques currently being used to produce a carpet. Chaïeb hopes to revolutionize the way the carpets are made with an innovative new technique that will ensure less hardship for the weavers and greater production volumes.

When asked if Chaïeb’s new technique would make her life easier, Ben Dhieb’s face lights up.

“Look at her face, how happy she is,” said Chaïeb. “Because, when they make a carpet, it takes them two, three, four days to do the finishing, cleaning and prepare the next carpet. And these three or four days are not paid.

“With my new system, the artisan no longer does that,” Chaïeb explained. “She only does the knots that make her money, that’s it. Other people in the workshop will do the finishing.”

According to Chaïeb, 10 to 15 per cent of the profits from each carpet sold through his cooperative will be redistributed to carpet-weavers like Ben Dhieb, even after she has been paid for her initial work, on a per-knot basis. “Once the carpet is sold, she’ll have more money,” said Chaïeb. “That’s fair trade.”

According to the AfDB’s Barbaria, Nejib Chaïeb received bonus points for his project because he’s hiring 60 women in the interior, northwestern part of the country, and he’s launching an innovative project in the handicrafts industry.

On January 10, 2013, the 71 selected Souk At-Tanmia projects will be announced officially in Tunis at the Cité de Science, where each beneficiary will present the details of his or her project – the zone, number of jobs generated, budget, funding and so on – to the public, the media, project partners and donors.

“January 10 will be an important step because that’s when we can share the results and underscore the durability of the project,” said Barbaria. “That’s when the real work starts. The recipients have the funding and the coaching, but it’s up to them to make their projects work, with the support of Souk At-Tanmia.”

Already there is interest in replicating the Souk At-Tanmia model in other countries. “Everyone wants to do something with entrepreneurship and to promote the private sector,” said Barbaria.

“The replication of the project depends on the success of this edition. We will see over the course of the year how the project evolves.”  

National unemployment rates in Tunisia currently hover around 18 per cent, with an even higher percentage of unemployed among women and youth between the ages of 18 and 34.
“The public sector cannot absorb all the unemployed,” said Barbaria. “Entrepreneurship is the answer.”

Souk At-Tanmia Partners

  • African Development Bank Group
  • Banque de financement des petites et moyennes entreprises (BFPME)
  • Banque tunisienne de solidarité (BTS)
  • British Council
  • Centre des jeunes dirigeants d’entreprise (CJD)
  • Confédération des entreprises citoyennes de la Tunisie (CONECT)
  • International Labour Organization (ILO)
  • International Organization for Migration (IOM)
  • Microsoft
  • Mediterranean School of Business
  • United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
  • United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO)
  • Talan Tunisie
  • Total
  • Touensa
  • Tunisiana
  • UK Department for International Development (DFID)
  • UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)

Sonia Barbaria of the AfDB’s Souk At-Tanmia Pilot Project Talks About the Importance of the Bank’s Participation in 12.12.12: One Day on Earth

Question: In your view, why do you think it’s important for the Bank to participate in the global film event 12.12.12: One Day on Earth and showcase the Souk At-Tanmia Project?

Answer: It’s a great opportunity for the Bank to participate in the event 12.12.12: One Day on Earth to be able to revolutionize the way we communicate as an international organization. Through Souk At-Tanmia, we also want to revolutionalize the way we do business. We know the Bank plays a very important role in economic development in its regional member countries. It’s very important to show the work we do with vulnerable populations.

It’s wonderful to think that people around the world can hear the voice of a Tunisian craftswoman. And the Bank plays an important role in allowing that to happen. In fact, Souk At-Tanmia generates hope among these youth and vulnerable populations. We want to share the message that anything is possible. We have to think outside the box, be creative, set an example.

[Souk At-Tanmia beneficiary] Nejib Sabri Chaïeb, for example, is very creative. He has a youthful outlook and, thanks to him, 60 artisans, women from the northwestern region of Tunisia, will be able to work towards the development of a new Tunisia. 

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