Economic stabilisation and youth employment

Project description

Project title: Initiative for economic stabilisation and youth employment
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Tunisia
Lead executing agency: Ministère de l’Industrie et du Commerce
Overall term: 2015 to 2019

Context

In the wake of the 2011 revolution, Tunisia has experienced a period of far-reaching social and political change. So far the government has struggled in its efforts to address the high level of unemployment, particularly among young people, women and young university graduates. There are also major economic and social disparities between different regions. Whereas recent decades have seen export-oriented supply and manufacturing industries become established in coastal areas, most inland regions lack any kind of economic structure extending beyond smallholder farming, where productivity is low.

The risk of conflict remains high, especially in deprived regions in the country's interior. Economic development and a reduction in unemployment are therefore essential in stabilising democracy in the country and are a top priority for the Tunisian Government. At regional level, the structures for supporting innovative business start-ups are weak, entrepreneurship is lacking and the lifespan for new enterprises is short. Any businesses which are established are mostly in sectors where the barriers to entry are low and where competitiveness is poor, such as the retail trade. By contrast, hardly any businesses are set up in sectors with growth potential, such as information technology.

Objective

The employment and income situation has improved, especially for young men and women in disadvantaged regions.

Approach

The project supports business founders and young entrepreneurs in 14 inland regions. It consists of three fields of activity.

  1. Promoting business start-ups in inland areas
    Support with setting up microenterprises is offered to particularly disadvantaged population groups. For instance, in order to improve family incomes, women in the north-west of the country are given advice not only on how to make their traditional carpet weaving more innovative but also on how to expand their activities. Women are able to do this as part of a cooperative which brings together designers, e-commerce specialists and buyers.

    Support is also given to business start-ups in progressive industries with high growth potential – for example in renewable energies and the recycling of raw materials. To this end, help is provided for business start-up advisory services and start-up competitions, which are a way of identifying innovative business ideas and developing them further. Sponsorship and financial backing for the competitions is attracted from local and national institutions as well as from private-sector businesses. Local service providers are given support in developing new and innovative services for start-ups and in offering these services in the regions in a sustained manner.

  2. Developing the range of advisory services for businesses following set-up
    Together with its partners, the project is developing a systematic range of support services to be offered to businesses once they have been set up. These are to help young entrepreneurs to consolidate their businesses during the critical first few years and to harness their potential for growth. In order to develop and implement a tailor-made range of products and services, a survey is first being conducted to ascertain the needs of companies. The findings of the survey are then used to develop suitable advisory products, train advisors and disseminate the range of products and services throughout the regions using the structures in place for start-up advice and business promotion. A financing strategy is being drawn up to place activities on a sustainable basis.

  3. Improving the services provided by cyber parks for ICT start-ups
    ‘Cyber parks’, industrial parks geared specifically to information and communications technology (ICT), are being equipped to offer demand-driven services. Help in devising and implementing strategy plans and improving management expertise is being offered to 3 cyber parks. Fledgling ICT start-ups are receiving the commercial and sector-specific knowledge required to be able to develop new products. A massive open online course (MOOC) provides free training for young graduates and the unemployed on developing applications, and a competition held at the end of the course awards prizes to participants with the most innovative applications. Developers are also given support with improving their apps so that they can be sold on international sales platforms and thus generate income.

The project’s lead executing agency is the Ministry for Industry and Commerce. Other national partners include centres of innovation and state-run business centres, business associations, technology and start-up centres as well as non-governmental organisations.

The project is part of a special initiative designed to stabilise and promote development in North Africa and the Middle East run by Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). Through the projects that make up this special initiative, BMZ is helping to open up economic and social prospects for people in the region. Within this context an additional sum of more than EUR 300 million has been earmarked for projects carried out by GIZ and other implementing organisations in the period from 2014 to 2021. The thematic focus is on youth and employment promotion, economic stabilisation, democracy and stabilising neighbouring countries in crisis situations.

Results

Start-up competitions and the strengthening of networks and cooperatives have helped to provide business development support to around 130 young people and other unemployed and underemployed individuals to date. The project has also provided support to the Ministry of Communication Technologies and Digital Economy in its efforts to create and implement an innovative range of training courses for the development of mobile applications. The first massive open online course through m-dev Tunisia has been completed by 1,340 young people from across the country, 1,000 of whom have listed their products on national and international sales platforms. By early 2016, the first training courses and post-set-up advisory services for existing companies had been developed and are now being implemented in 2 pilot regions.