Digitalization is driving entrepreneurship in Tunisia
Digitalization is changing our lives with unprecedented speed. New technologies are revolutionizing the way businesses operate, how people connect and exchange information, and how they interact with the public and private sectors.
As Gerd Müller, Director General of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), says, “Digitalization changes everything.”
In Tunisia, as in many countries around the world, the COVID-19 crisis has accelerated digital transformation. But in the country’s interior regions, businesses still face barriers to fully exploit the potential of digital technologies.
That’s why entrepreneurs are getting a helping hand from the Mashrou3i project. Implemented by UNIDO, together with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation (AICS) and the HP Foundation, the project provides training, coaching and technical assistance to support the development of new enterprises in Tunisia.
In Medenine, a town in south-eastern Tunisia, the young entrepreneur Ayoub Zammouri took advantage of the Mashrou3i project to improve his digital skills, discover new online tools and identify opportunities for market expansion and sales. He launched Makhtoum, an online platform for the promotion and marketing of local products.
Zammouri explains, “The world today is connected. We have no other choice but to adapt. I wanted to combine the digital world with the agriculture and handicraft sectors, to promote local products, while also taking advantage of the opportunities offered by digital transformation.”
UNIDO’s Müller says, “We see that digitalization is a powerful tool for disseminating entrepreneurial culture and learning,” and Hajer El Hedi, a young entrepreneur from Tatouine, a city in southern Tunisia, proves the point.
In 2020, she launched Examido – an interactive educational platform where teachers and students learn, interact and collaborate with one another. Mashrou3i provided business coaching and technical support in the development of the content and programming of the Examido mobile app.
This innovative platform is one of the first businesses in the region to be awarded the Startup Act Label created by a new law designed to advance digitalization and jump-start the next generation of Tunisian startups.
El Hedi remarks,” I was the first entrepreneur in Tataouine to receive the startup label, which is a great source of pride! This marks the beginning of a new era in the technology sector in the south of the country.”
Another beneficiary of the Mashrou3i project is Dr. Adel Mehrez who founded a medical laboratory in the city of Gabès earlier this year. With the support of Mashrou3i, his Bio Lab has integrated state-of-the-art software to simplify daily management and improve the speed and accuracy of analyses.
“The Mashrou3i project enabled me to acquire Dynamic Lab software. Used in the most modern laboratories, this technology not only facilitates tasks, but also makes life easier. Based on everything being connected, it provides instant processing of all analyses performed with remote validation and almost zero margin of error…Thanks to Mashrou3i, I have entered the era of digital transformation with full force.”
UNIDO’s Müller highlights the Mashrou3i project beneficiaries as examples of progress by innovation. He notes that digitalization is crucial to advancing with UNIDO’s priorities:
- reducing hunger by helping businesses from farm to fork;
- preventing climate breakdown by using renewable energy and energy efficiency to reduce industrial greenhouse gas emissions; and
- supporting sustainable supply chains so that developing country producers get a fair deal and scarce resources are preserved.
Read the full story and a new report published by Mashrou3i highlighting the opportunities and challenges that digitalization presents Tunisian entrepreneurs here.