VENTURES AFRICA – The Tunisian capital, Tunis, has hosted representatives of international organizations, government delegations and the private sector attending an international conference on productive capacity for youth organized by the European Union (EU) and the UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO).
The 700 participants who attended the two day event discussed strategies geared towards developing and expanding the productive capacities of youths in the Middle East and North Africa region (MENA) as a whole.
In an effort to develop and expand enterprises within Tunisia’s labour-intensive sectors, with a focus on young university graduates with an entrepreneurial spirit, participants also formulated recommendations for the leaders of Tunisia and other countries in the MENA region that could boost productive and sustainable employment.
Meanwhile, on the sidelines of the event, a new collaboration among UNIDO, US Agency for International Development (USAID), Hewlett Packard Company (HP) and the government of Italy was announced.
The announcement involved investing 3.3 million to foster sustainable employment opportunities for young people in Tunisia. In particular, it will focus on improving access and quality of services provided to predominantly young entrepreneurs by local institutions, and direct capacity-building for enterprises with high employment potential.
This partnership seeks to leverage small and medium enterprises (SMEs) as an effective avenue to facilitate economic development and foster entrepreneurship in order to drive new business creation within four vulnerable, underserved regions of Tunisia: El Kef, Kairouan, Kasserine, and Sidi Bouzid.
In his brief remarks, Director General Kandeh Yumkella noted that “unemployment among educated youths emerges as a major challenge in Tunisia and collaborations like ours that put a strong emphasis on creating employment opportunities for young people entering the workforce will help empower and equip them well into the future.”
“This initiative will help enhance the knowledge and capacity of regional and local business while at the same time provide support and training for organizations that are already on the ground. Our collaboration will also provide much needed technical assistance to targeted companies, particularly those in the agribusiness, environmental and other critical sectors of Tunisia’s varied economy,” said Mara Rudman, USAID Assistant Administrator.
The project will be implemented by UNIDO which draws on extensive experience in the region in assisting the creation and development of new businesses, in particular for young men and women, as well as clean production and resource efficiency.
The USAID contribution is directly tied to its 150 million portfolio of assistance for Tunisia that prioritizes job and business creation, export promotion, and private investment in support of Tunisia’s political transition to democracy in the wake of the Arab Spring uprisings.
Structured as a public and private collaboration the partnership is designed, co-funded and co-managed by the partners to ensure that the risks, responsibilities and rewards associated with the venture are equally shared.
Tunisian Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali and European Commission Vice President, Antonio Tajani attended the event.