Souk At-Tanmia Celebrates Inclusive and Sustainable Employment With a New Generation of Talented Entrepreneurs

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"Building a new post-revolutionary Tunisia based on the ideas of young people and the strengthening the spirit of entrepreneurship" is the theme of the announcement ceremony for the beneficiaries of Souk At-tanmia, a recent pilot initiative and partnership in favour of entrepreneurship, economic development and social cohesion and job creation in Tunisia.

The ceremony was held today in the auditorium of the Cité des Sciences in Tunis, an iconic symbol that is synonymous with innovation and youth.

The event is an opportunity, on the eve of the 2nd anniversary of 14 January (the anniversary of the Tunisian Revolution), to celebrate the inclusive and sustainable employment, and believe in the talents of a new generation of entrepreneurs driven by a dynamic of hope and confidence for a bright future.

"Souk At-tanmia rewards on this occasion the 71 best proposals made by young entrepreneurs, civil society associations or unemployed persons," declared Jacob Kolster, Director of the North African Department at the African Development Bank. "They represent a diversity of backgrounds, sectors and geographic areas, but all share a common desire to change their present as well as contribute to the economic development of their region in order to build a prosperous and flourishing new Tunisia," added Kolster.

"The beneficiaries were given the opportunity to present their projects and interact with the public during an open-door event this morning," said Emanuele Santi, Coordinator of the initiative at the African Development Bank. "Through the ceremony and presentation of project ideas, we want to show that Tunisia is full of talent, as we encourage institutions and investors to believe and invest in this potential."

"I am honoured to be recognized by Souk At-tanmia," said Zohra Tlig, one of the grant recipients. "I hope that by creating my business, along with the projects of the other winners, will help inspire other Tunisian entrepreneurs to seize the opportunity and, most importantly, to believe in themselves."

Since its launch on July 12, 2012, Souk At-tanmia has created a "value chain" of resources and expertise of 20 partners including international development organizations, public sector, and private and civil society in Tunisia, in support of entrepreneurship.

By reaching people across the country, the initiative could link Tunisians and generate optimism in their own potential. The initiative has attracted 5,000 initial entries, about 2,000 project proposals, and more than 100,000 visits to the website.

The 71 projects that have distinguished themselves in this edition have been selected through a highly competitive process by a selection committee representing the partners of Souk At-tanmia, in which 28 international and national experts actively participated.

The winners were evaluated on profitability and sustainability of their projects, their potential for job creation and impact in the reduction of regional and social disparities and innovative to meet the needs of the market, and their community.

The award winners include: 54 per cent youth (aged 18-24 years), 32 per cent women, 31 per cent unemployed, 61 per cent from disadvantaged areas. Additionally, it is projected to create near 1,000 potential jobs. The selected projects cover various sectors such as agriculture, manufacturing, handicrafts, tourism, ICT, renewable energy, services, health and education.

The initiative initially mobilized approximately 1 million euros, which has enabled beneficiaries to leverage three times that amount through loans and other means.

In addition to financial allocations up to 30,000 Tunisian dinars (approximately 15,000 euros), the 71 beneficiaries of Souk At-tanmia will be able to take advantage of a comprehensive mentoring and coaching program throughout the year 2013 provided by experts and professionals from the partners, according to their area of expertise.

An online geolocation platform that shows the projects will be available on the website to ensure transparency, monitoring and sharing of experience between the selected projects.

In its pilot phase, the initiative aims to show an approach to inclusive and sustainable economic development based on innovation, the development of youth, and entrepreneurship is possible in Tunisia and elsewhere on the African continent.

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