Tunisian green start-ups meet investors
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Degradation of almost 95% of Tunisian arable soils, chemical pollution, high energy consumption...natural resources are running out and the threat that reigns over the ecosystem and the economy is very real. 'Faced with this situation, it has become necessary to change the system and bank on a green and sustainable economy, which is why we have drawn up action plans on Sustainable Production and Consumption (SPC)', we were told by Nabil Hamdi of the Tunisian Ministry for the Environment and Sustainable Development and focal point of the SwitchMed programme in Tunisia.
At a moment when all the States are addressing questions concerning the environment, for Mr Hamdi, 'Investing in a smart economy in which ecological and social issues are as important as the economic issues, this appears to be the most effective strategy for resolving the problem'.
It is in this context that the SwitchMed programme, in partnership with the Regional Activity Centre for Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP/RAC) and the Agency for the Promotion of Industry and Innovation (APII), has organised a Pitch event for green start-ups and investors from different sectors on 18 January 2018 in the APII headquarters.
The aim of the day event is to create a link between investors and start-up entrepreneurs in order to bring the projects to life. According to Claudia Pani, Project Manager for SwitchMed, in Tunisia there is 'a strong interest in the green economy, but the main problem is financing'. It is also necessary to prime the economic transition towards a system that is geared towards own and renewable energies. Out of 50 dossiers submitted, only 7 were selected to participate in the Pitch and have a chance to win the competition, after which the entrepreneur would have the opportunity to present their project in Barcelona during the key event of the year: SwitchMed Connect 2018, the reward being visibility on the international stage in order to obtain financing and commercial partnerships.
The 7 start-ups were selected for their 'impact on the environment, their social impact, the level of progress of the start-up and concordance with the ‘’green entrepreneurship’’ model implemented by the SwitchMed programme', Claudia Pani explained. The APII organised coaching and mentoring sessions prior to the event, in order to properly prepare the pitch for presentation before the judging panel and a panel of investors. Each of them could then receive valuable advice about the fundraising strategy and the introduction to the financial study.
After the pitch, the entrepreneurs were able to talk with investors and the panel of judges during the speed mentoring session, when they were directed towards funding bodies. Some investors expressed a keen interest in the projects, such as the innovation and business affairs hub IntilaQ, our Switcher Biofire and M2M, or even Eya Channoufi and Slim Bouakez of the ABConsulting firm, showing an interest in Biointrants Technologie, Biofire and W2V.
Salma Baghdadi of Fondation BIAT, and one of the members of the panel of judges, maintained that the projects are 'truly sensitive to the environmental issues, some of them linking environment with social impact, such as EcoExplore or Bio-Chèvre-lait and creating a regional dynamic'. Taking into consideration the pitch, the capacity of the product to meet the future needs, the sustainability and impact on the environment, the enterprise model and the potential value for investors, the panel of experts awarded the first prize to Mohamed Makki Maalej of M2M.
Mohamed Makki Maalej de M2M receiving the first price from SwitchMed Project Manager Claudia Pani
M2M is a start-up that offers a platform for monitoring energy management applications in real time. The platform retrieves and analyses the data gathered from an installation's electrical network and presents it as useful information that can be processed via a customisable Web-based interface.
At the end of the Pitch event, all of the participants had the opportunity to acquire valuable advice for the next stages of their entrepreneurial trajectory, to make contact with investors and receive the promise of future partnerships.