Competitive enterprises and better starting opportunities for more jobs and higher income

Project description

Project title: Innovation, employment and regional economic development
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Tunisia
Lead executing agency: Ministère de l’Industrie et des Petites et Moyennes Entreprises (MIPME)
Overall term: 2018 to 2021

giz-Buff-Tunesien-8: Improving the value chain for dates makes businesses more competitive. Photo: GIZ / Berno Buff

Context

The Tunisian economy is facing major challenges. Its economic growth and the competitiveness of many companies is too weak to achieve a long-term reduction in the high unemployment rate of over 15 per cent. Introducing modern management methods, innovation and digitalisation are key factors to help the country’s economy to start growing again. The project ‘Innovation, Employment and Regional Development’ picks up on these opportunities. 

Objective

The economic performance of companies in selected sectors has improved.

IDEE_RH_059 – Kopie: Training in modern processing techniques enhances product quality. Photo: GIZ

Approach

The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH works at two different levels. First on the demand side for labour, it pursues various approaches to enable small and medium-sized enterprises to become more competitive and to increase their demand for personnel. Second on the supply side, the project aims to improve the employability of students and jobseekers by upgrading their qualifications and matching these to the needs of the private sector. 

Continuing along this line, the project cooperates with career centres at universities in order to improve the career prospects of young academics by offering them guidance and market-oriented trainings. In addition, through the platform “Tunicod”, students and jobseekers can upgrade their IT skills through online courses. With this e-learning platform, the project is addressing the shortage of skilled employees in this promising economic sector. 

On the demand side, the focus lies on promoting small and medium-sized enterprises. In cooperation with companies, industry associations, private business consultants and governmental institutions, needs-based business development services are offered in human resources management, marketing and digital transformation. Moreover, companies can also benefit from personalised coaching measures through the SME Loop, a business development service developed by GIZ. 

The project's technical focuses lies on Industry 4.0 and digitalisation. In this regard widespread awareness-raising measures were undertaken to sensitise companies for the advantages of digital tools and production methods. Moreover, the project promotes innovation through the transfer of technology by facilitating cooperation agreements between companies and research institutions.

The project also supports companies in structurally weak regions by working with the date, olive oil, marble, gypsum and biotechnology value chains enabling them to achieve their growth potential.

In order to promote the economic development of the south-eastern region of Sfax, the project draws on the experience of the German state of Baden-Württemberg to support the establishment of a regional economic promotion agency called ‘Sfax International’. This agency, which brings together companies, associations, universities and governmental institutions, aims to promote the region and attract investment, especially in innovative areas of the economy.

With the support of the European Union (EU), Tunisians living abroad are supported and encouraged to contribute to the economic development of their country of origin by starting businesses and by exchanging experiences.

Results

So far, more than 600 companies have benefited from the business development services of the project. These comprise companies in the north-eastern regions and in the centre and south of the country, operating in amongst others the date, olive oil, marble, gypsum, biotechnology and industry sector. More than half of these companies have been able to introduce new products, increase profitability and improve the income of their employees. By strengthening the economic performance of the participating companies, the project has so far created more than 2,500 new jobs. 

In founding the ‘Sfax International’ regional business development agency, the project has succeeded in recruiting high-ranking representatives of local industrial and academic associations for future cooperation. 
In the area of digitalisation, the project has created an action plan with the Ministry of Industry to promote the concept of Industry 4.0. Events on information and communications technology (ICT) have already raised the awareness of 200 companies on the opportunities in this field. The project has also contributed to the establishment of 54 technology transfer partnerships between companies and research institutions that aim to introduce new products or processes.

Furthermore, the e-learning platform ‘Tunicod’ trained 160 students and job-seekers to improve their IT skills.
Around 20 consultants at universities have been trained to prepare students for the requirements of the job market and ensure that their qualifications match the needs of the private sector. As a result, more than 8,000 students have so far been able to participate in information and training measures. 

Overall, 5,000 SME employees and jobseekers have received individual and company-based coaching. 

To promote the project ideas of Tunisians living abroad, a participatory selection process has been applied to identify a business incubator for this target group. Initial awareness-raising campaigns have been carried out in Tunisia and Europe. More than 800 Tunisians in Europe have already been informed about opportunities to contribute to the economic development of Tunisia. 

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