A MEPI $194,500 grant to the Institut Arabe des Chefs d’Entreprises
July 30, 2012
On Monday, July 30 2012, the Political/Economic Counselor, Jack Doutrich and five other embassy officers attended the closing ceremony of a MEPI local grant entitled “Identifying business opportunities in Tunisian underserved and poor regions” by the Institut Arabe des Chefs d’Entreprises. This is a one year project with a total amount of $194,500.
The local Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) funded the first phase of a three phase project that aims to increase entrepreneurship in targeted poor regions in Tunisia. Over 10 weeks, 14 young professionals from American universities visited 10 cities in rural Tunisia to research and analyze the economic environment. They have consulted over 200 potential entrepreneurs on improving business acumen, focusing on value-add, marketability, and profitability. They also met with over 20 governors, mayors, delegates, and other government officials, and over 30 civic and developmental organizations. In addition to the selected sites, students visited over 50 cities, towns, and villages in the surrounding areas, including agricultural, industrial and tourist zones. Also, they visited over 30 businesses, discussing cost structure, market share, financial history, and obstacles to growth not counting the training seminars they conducted on market research, business plan design, and financing. In collaboration with the Tunisian students, the 14 American students identified opportunities for investment, including market gaps and unexploited natural resources as well as collating findings into reports, which were delivered to IACE for the benefit of potential investors.
It should also be noted that the minister of Regional Development and Planning, Mr. Jameleddine Gharbi, and Mr. Mondher ben Ayed, a well known businessman, participated in the closing ceremony and have shared their thoughts with the different participants in the event on the best way to proceed with the two next phases.