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The second edition of Souk At-Tanmia, the programme dedicated to aspiring entrepreneurs in Tunisia, has just begun. Launched on April 30, the invitation to apply ends at midnight on June 30, 2014.
On Wednesday, April 30 in Tunis, on the eve of International Workers’ Day, the Cité des Sciences hosted the official launch of the second edition of the Souk At-Tanmia partnership. The African Development Bank (AfDB) and its partners created this initiative to promote employment and entrepreneurship in Tunisia.
The ceremony was opened by Donald Kaberuka, President of the AfDB, in the presence of Hakim Ben Hammouda, Tunisian Minister of the Economy and Finance, and numerous guests and partners. These included, among others, US Ambassador Jacob Walles and British Ambassador Hamish Cowell. Kaberuka said, “I am very pleased that the first edition of Souk At-Tanmia was so productive. Certainly, the resources were limited, but it is not only a matter of resources. It is about showing the route to be taken.”
Incubator for the entrepreneurs of tomorrow
When it was his turn to speak, the Tunisian Minister of the Economy and Finance hailed this “initiative led by the AfDB and which has successfully mobilized other partners around it.” In fact, the second edition of Souk At-Tanmia brought together 17 partners. Hakim Ben Hammounda also addressed youth, saying: “It is for you, the young people, who have the ideas and the qualifications, to create your own jobs!”
Souk At-Tanmia is intended to produce a new generation of entrepreneurs in Tunisia. They are young and have a gift for initiative and innovation, but do not have access to the funding required to launch their activities. Most importantly, the program offers integrated support combining funding, in the form of grants, and support for beneficiary entrepreneurs that includes capacity strengthening and mentoring, among others. No other initiative to boost employment and entrepreneurship in Tunisia mobilizes so many development partners. The latter are drawn from across the public and private sectors, civil society, and from the academic world.
Success of the pilot phase
The success of the pilot phase, which was launched in July 2012, justifies this second edition. The proof is in the figures: 437 jobs were created in 2013 (641 are expected in 2014) thanks to the 61 beneficiary projects that were made possible. Of those projects, 51% are run by young people, 33% by women and 34% by unemployed persons. In the majority of cases (63%), they are based in disadvantaged regions of the country. As such, Souk At-Tanmia is meeting the objectives established for it: to promote employment and entrepreneurship, with emphasis on the most vulnerable populations, including the unemployed, women and young people, and on disadvantaged regions not benefiting from growth. The essential condition for the candidates is to be of Tunisian nationality, or at least to reside in Tunisia.
A second edition and new rules
As a result of lessons learned throughout the pilot phase, as well as feedback on the experience collected from beneficiaries, the rules have been amended. From now on, the cost of a beneficiary project may reach a total of 300,000 Tunisian dinars. For projects below 100,000 dinars, the grant awarded may total 50% of the overall cost, provided that it does not exceed 35,000 dinars. For those above 100,000 dinars, the grant may total 35% of the project cost, not exceeding 50,000 dinars. Most importantly, candidates will now be asked to make a financial contribution themselves, providing 5% of the cost of their project. It is a symbolic contribution but one that shows their commitment.
Souk At-Tanmia does not only give funding to those setting up projects: a grant is not enough to guarantee the sustainability of a project. It also gives them a unique opportunity to receive support and advice throughout the start-up phase of their business. To begin with, five weeks are dedicated to capacity strengthening. During this time, the selected candidates refine their ideas and business plans. They are helped by experts provided by the program partners. The second phase, lasting six months, is the pre-operational phase. With the benefit of personalized coaching, the project leaders create their businesses and launch their activities. Next, for six to 12 months, i.e. during the start-up phase of their businesses, beneficiaries receive mentoring and technical support intended to develop their activities.
In addition to the Réseau national des pépinières d’entreprises [National Network of Business Incubators] and the various centres of the Agency for the Promotion of Industry (API) involved in Souk At-Tanmia, a whole network of “focal points” has been created to link the country as a whole and to make the program known in the more isolated regions. The great new innovation of this year is a hotline available seven days a week from 9:30 am to 7:30 pm. The number is: 70 015 135.
Call for candidates and synergies
Are you Tunisian or residing in Tunisia? Do you have an innovative idea, a spirit of initiative and a desire to create your own business? Souk At-Tanmia was created for you. You have two months to register online on the website www.soukattanmia.org. Deadline for registration: midnight on June 30, 2014.
In addition to Souk At-Tanmia, the African Development Bank is involved in other initiatives that aim to promote the spirit of enterprise in Tunisia. Prominent among these is “Ibda”, intended as a “Social Business” catalyst in Tunisia. The invitation for proposals was open from March 25 to April 18, 2014. The Ibda program aims to encourage the creation of enterprises of a social nature. This means enterprises involving economic activities for social or environmental purposes that serve the public interest. At the same time, they must be financially sustainable and the profits invested in the same type of activities, with an awareness of the social and environmental aspects. With Souk At-Tanmia and Ibda, the Bank is capitalizing on existing synergies between these two different programs, to the benefit of employment and the Tunisian people.