Maghreb startup initiative seeks out Tunisia’s young developers

A regional competition aimed at promoting entrepreneurship and innovation in Maghreb, dubbed the Maghreb Startup Initiative (MSI), was yesterday launched in Tunis, Tunisia, by the Education for Employment (EFE) foundation and its partners.

The competition that targets teams of young entrepreneurs from North African countries including Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia expects submission of proposals of innovative ideas starting this month.

Only 25 teams are set to be shortlisted to advance to the second stage, which will require pitching the concepts of the participant’s enterprises to a panel of judges.

The 25 selected teams will then participate in a 6-day intensive training in marketing, management, and project implementation. They will in addition enjoy rapport with mentors, or established figures in the entrepreneurial field, with whom they were paired during the competition.

According to EFE, the proposals will be judged based on the innovativeness, profitability, social impact in addition to the team’s managerial experience.

The innovative ideas from the youth, EFE says, have to be in the fields of biotechnology, green energy, media, or information and communication technologies (ICT).

Managing director of Wiki Startups Mondher Khanfir said the competition reflects the need to identify projects since Tunisia has many unexploited projects.

Tunisia has not fully exploited ICT and renewable energy. Statistics by Internet World Stats indicate the country has around 3.9 million Internet users compared to Morocco’s 15.7 million. Such competitions, according to EFE, are set to garner support for youth entrepreneurship in the country as well as support the youth support and give them direction.

Saïd Aïda, president of EFE-Tunisia’s board of directors said the initiative is also meant to give hope to the youth of the Maghreb.

The top three to five teams per country will be selected to win a cash prize in December.

Currently, the total prize money to be divided among the winning teams is at US$70,000. EFE however says the amount could increase since it considers including additional sponsors.

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