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Tunis’ EU4YOUTH “rencontre” unveils Tunisian success stories and flagship EU-funded initiatives including SwitchMed.

The European Union is strengthening the relationship with its Mediterranean neighbours, by financing initiatives that develop the potential of young people in the MENA region. To showcase some of the positive impacts these initiatives have had on Tunisia’s youth, EU Neighbours South in collaboration with the EU Delegation in Tunisia brought together more than 150 young people and representatives from the press and civil society for a “EU4YOUTH rencontre”. The event was held in Tunis at the Soukra Valley on Saturday May 13th, 2017
Published on May 31, 2017

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At 3:30pm, in the conference hall of Soukra Valley, a last sound check adjustment before music starts. A fusion of folkloric North-African rhythms reflects the crowd well: young, diverse, inspired. Some of them are here to engage and learn from success stories; others are here to showcase theirs. This is also an opportunity for them to network.

 After a stirring word on hope, youth, and illegal migrants from Saoud Meherzi, winner of the 2016 HEC Montréal’s Eloquence Contest, HE Mr Patrice Bergamini, EU Ambassador to Tunisia, spoke on the new measures and agreements established between Tunisia and the EU for the benefit of young entrepreneurs. Mentioning the Startup Act as an example of a positive step forward, Mr Bergamini expressed his full confidence in the Tunisian youth as actors of change: “Freedom has led Tunisia where others had refused to go. Young Tunisians represent the hope for our region and a unique success story”.

 Representatives from a number of EU-funded projects then highlighted the opportunities for youth in Tunisia created through the EU’s regional collaborations, including Erasmus + (dedicated to education and mobility), Creative Mediterranean (dedicated to cultural and creative industries), SouthMed CV (dedicated to culture) and SwitchMed.

 Panel discussions on creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship took place during the event showcasing Tunisian successful stories. All speakers had a united message: don’t let the obstacles get you down. These obstacles generally range from unfavourable entourage and rigid legislations to financial issues. Surprisingly, most of the questions from the audience gave a sense that the attendees had moved on from wondering if they were able to launch their own initiative, replacing the “Can I?” with the more daring “How to?”. Some aren’t even waiting for a diploma to start their business.

 Khalil Ellouze, SwitchMed social media manager, described the opportunities and services that we are offering to young eco and social entrepreneurs in the Mediterranean. In Tunisia, SwitchMed is currently promoting 16 inspirational Switchers. 322 people have received a green entrepreneurship training programme; 34 among them have already launched their green business, and 5 are benefitting from SwitchMed’s 8-months-incubation support plan. Three other pilots projects success stories in ecotourism and olive oil industry are being written thanks to SwitchMed’s support. 15 Tunisian industries have also gone more competitive thanks to MED TEST II methodology developed by SwitchMed. In fact they have identified resources and energy saving potential during their production process. They have also been trained on Product Environmental Footprint and introduced to eco-innovative solutions to be more profitable while reducing their impact on the environment.

 All in all, things are shaping up for the better in Tunisia, thanks to the little and big endeavours of its youth.

Khalil Ellouze introducing SwitchMed programme to the audience