What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear “Tunisia”? Sandy beaches? A hot Sahara with Camels? Welcoming people or maybe spicy food? Well, Tunisia has […]
What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear “Tunisia”? Sandy beaches? A hot Sahara with Camels? Welcoming people or maybe spicy food? Well, Tunisia has much more to offer than great touristic facilities as well as warmth and hospitality.
This small country has a great potential to turn into a hub for African and MENA entrepreneurs and a regional leader of empowered youth advancing their communities and moving the Tunisian society forward. But still, there is a quite long way to go.
Although, Tunisia is perceived as one of the countries that came out from the Arab Spring as a success story, the country faces significant unemployment rates and other social issues, in particular increasing after the so-called Jasmine Revolution.
“Young people are capable of doing much more today than ever in the history of the mankind” – Muhammad Yunus
Around 200,000 Tunisians between the ages of 18 and 34 are unemployed, desperate for work and a livable wage. In such an environment where the existing legislature to a lesser extend is considered as entrepreneurship-friendly but where the society requires immediate responses to the youth problems and demands concrete tools for action, the Social Impact Award provides a viable platform that would not only present a pathway for youngsters into the business world, but also will transform them into active agents in their societies.
“Young people are capable of doing much more today than ever in the history of the mankind” said the great Muhammad Yunus, one of the pioneers of social entrepreneurship. This is the momentum, we, young active Tunisians want to use and to empower youth in our country to join the ride and initiate businesses that will make our society move forward!
There are four main reasons that motivated us to bring the Social Impact Award to Tunisia and for the first time in the MENA region:
- Promoting social entrepreneurship within the Tunisian youth
We already have some NGOs that are doing their best to promote social entrepreneurship but still there are many students who do not have any idea about the concept. In addition, most of social entrepreneurship competitions are limited to some parts of the countries or to some universities. Here comes the Social Impact Award Tunisia to give the chance to anyone with an idea that solves a real problem to participate independently of his region or university.
In addition to that, after the revolution in 2011, the need for social solutions from the government, NGOs or Businesses has become huge and people are waiting for anyone of these to take the initiative to solve the different problems that we are suffering from. But still we need a new mindset that teaches them how to see problems as opportunities, that social entrepreneurship is an option that should be considered the same way as classical entrepreneurship, that every citizen has a positive role to play and that every initiative has to make a positive impact on its environment.
Furthermore, we perceive SIA as a great tool for youth empowerment in Tunisia as it is not solely focused on the for profit ideas as most of the business planning or existing entrepreneurship competitions in the country, but it also opens the doors for people with non-for-profit ideas that can also solve problems.
- Enhancing job opportunities for youth
SIA not only helps young people turn their ideas into realities but also increases access to employment since it gives participants the opportunity to acquire a lot of skills such as team work, pitching, business modeling, public speaking etc. Employers look nowadays for graduates with soft skills who were active and who got the chance to discover what business really is. SIA will absolutely empower students, gives them more confidence in themselves and opens many doors for their careers independently from their ranking in the competition.
- Showcasing Tunisians’ potential on the international level
Tunisia has some local success stories in social entrepreneurship but does not have yet a social enterprise that went global after starting locally. People here need access to an international community that might include entrepreneurs who have similar projects and international experts/mentors who can help them go international. Also Tunisians need access to international opportunities such as funding; mentoring programs etc and being part of SIA network will certainly be very useful for them. By offering the chance to 3 projects from Tunisia to go to Vienna to network with other teams from Europe, we are giving them access to the international media, to international investors and we are giving them the opportunity to collaborate and make connections with people who might help them and support their initiatives.
- Empowerment and identity-change of the young Tunisians by embracing the concept of social entrepreneurship.
The social entrepreneurship ecosystem has been rapidly developing in the country since 2011, but the need for a community of change makers through social innovation persists. The new social innovators should not only be focused on finding solutions of the existing societal problems, but should provide an identity-change, in particular among the younger population. And it is exactly how we would like to use SIA, to bring it closer to our youth, to inspire, educate and train them and to empower them to become self-confident, initiative and proactive individuals, embracing the social entrepreneurship not only as their occupation, but as their lifestyle
Having SIA in Tunisia we are starting not only our – Tunisian path to empowered youth, but even more, we make a solid step hopefully to be duplicated in the whole MENA region. Only in this way, by having youngsters ready to take the initiative and contribute to a better society we can assure prosperity and bright future in all the MENA countries. We believe that Tunisia, as it was the first spark of the Arabic spring and was duplicated in many other MENA countries, will be the pilot country of SIA before a promising expansion to bring the spirit of the Social Entrepreneurship closer to the Arabic youngsters.
“The launch of SIA in Tunisia marks a major step in the promotion of social entrepreneurship on the national and Maghreb levels. The partnership between 2521 Project and SIA represents a milestone in the path of social enterprises and their development in the region. Social impact becomes a necessity for sustainable enterprises and a better future”
Kaouther SFAR GANDOURA, Project Manager 2521 Project by We love Sousse
“SIA and EL SPACE happen to have the same vision for a collaborative and humane society based on social innovation and entrepreneurship. We are looking forward to make this happen”
Adnen Ben Haj, Co-founder EL SPACE Social Innovation Hub