The African Development Bank is financing a ground-breaking initiative in Tunisia – Souk At-tanmia – with the goal to foster youth employment, particularly in disadvantaged regions that are struggling with high levels of unemployment in the aftermath of the revolution.
Launched in July 2012, Souk At-tanmia (“market for development” in Arabic) seeks to support a new generation of innovative and talented Tunisian entrepreneurs. Seventy-four grant recipients (54 per cent between the ages of18 and 24), hailing from different regions were selected following a rigorous training program led by Tunisian and international experts. The projects are expected to create 1,000 jobs. More than a third of Souk At-Tanmia grant recipients are women. On the occasion of International Women’s Day, we offer a brief presentation of two of the candidates: Rym Labidi and Leyla Gasmi.
Rym Labidi: Ethically Yours
Thirty-six years old from Ras Jebel, a coastal town in the northeastern part of the country (governorate of Bizerte), Rym Labidi developed an innovative project that will provide jobs for at least 12 other women.
Rym holds a master’s degree in marketing and a second master’s degree in technology and e-commerce. After a career spanning 12 years, the mother of three decided to set up a business. The project concept was developed over two years before being put into place with the support of Souk At-tanmia. “Other than the financial support of the AfDB, the follow-up and sponsoring provided within this framework are indispensable,” she said.
And so Freshka (“fresh” in Tunisian Arabic) was born. The goal: to add value to homegrown products, cultivated and produced by the women of the region, which are then packaged and sold over the Internet for home delivery.
Rym hopes to offer quality products with high added value, namely social responsibility. “My goal is to attain a certain level of ethics in the way I do business,” she says.
In 2009, Leyla Gasmi founded a therapeutic farm for disabled children in Sidi Thabet in the governorate of Ariana, situated about 30 kilometres northwest of Tunis. Her latest project: to provide disabled youth from poor families the opportunity to learn about agriculture at her organic poultry farm. Leyla’s goal is to provide care for these disabled youngsters who suffer from exclusion due to their disability and their poverty. The energetic 62-year-old hopes “to help facilitate their inclusion in society” through meaningful employment.
Thanks to Leyla’s generosity, 74 young people will receive training in agricultural techniques each day at the farm. Her organic poultry farm is projected to create five jobs per year. As Leyla puts it, employment for these disadvantaged youth gives them “another chance to lead a dignified life.”