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Accelerating the transition to a circular economy: Mashrou3i supports Tunisian entrepreneurs to go green

September 14, 2022

During July and September 2022, around 100 entrepreneurs from Tunisia’s interior regions were supported by the Mashrou3i project to create green, circular business models and enterprises. Through a series of focus groups and training workshops, Mashrou3i worked closely with young entrepreneurs to develop sustainable products and services and fostered linkages with a wide range of actors in the entrepreneurial ecosystem, including regional business support institutions and financing institutions.

Faced with global warming, resource scarcity, biodiversity loss and pollution, the circular economy is increasingly seen as an important instrument to tackle this triple planetary crisis. A circular economy keeps materials, products and services in circulation for as long as possible. It shifts production from a linear “take, make, waste” model of growth to a circular “reduce, reuse, recycle” one.

Aware of the need to support entrepreneurs transition from traditional linear to innovative green and circular business models, the Mashrou3i project organized a series of focus groups and training workshops in this field.

In July, focus group workshops were held in Kairoaun, Tabarka and Tozeur to gain insights into the current context of the circular economy in Tunisia’s interior regions. Around 100 entrepreneurs took part in the 2-day workshops, which helped raise awareness of the importance of accelerating transition to a circular economy and also enabled Mashrou3i experts to identify challenges and expectations of green entrepreneurs.

“This focus group workshop helped me to really become aware that my activities were included in the circular economy. I now understand why we need to take care of our resources and how to add value to waste.” – Ahed Moussi, Founder of Savor Flavors, infused olive oils (Beja)

“We have a very different culture in the south, we don’t throw away anything and we always try to make use of organic materials like palm waste. It’s in our roots. My project is following this mindset with the support of Mashrou3i.” – 

Ghofrane Nabli, plastic collection and recycling project (Tozeur)

Based on the insights identified in the focus groups, the Mashrou3i project organized 2 training workshops in August in Sousse to support entrepreneurs to develop sustainable products and services. To enhance the enabling environment and strengthen linkages, the workshops brought together 92 entrepreneurs from 14 regions and a wide range of partners, including 38 actors from regional business support institutions and financing institutions, such as APII, ANGED, INNRPI, CRDA, AMPE, AMNE and the initiative network.

During the 6-day workshops, Mashrou3i experts supported entrepreneurs to design, develop and accelerate their green and circular business models. Working side by side, participants identified opportunities and shared knowledge to better understand the business, legal and institutional framework as well as existing support services. Entrepreneurs were also provided with business coaching on their specific projects to enhance their skills and knowledge of financing mechanisms, certification and tools to help transition their business to the circular economy.

 

“This training by Mashrou3i is a very good initiative that enabled local actors, like us, to present the financing mechanisms, incentives and benefits offered by the state to various sectors in terms of green and circular economy. We met many entrepreneurs during the B2B sessions organized by Mashrou3i, to discuss their projects, better understand their challenges and advise them on possible solutions. Most importantly, we gained a lot of feedback and information to better implement future strategies.”

Jamel Tajouri, Senior Engineer ANGED (Gafsa)

 

The training highlighted that thinking circular doesn’t only enhance profitability, but it also drives innovation, green employment and environmental sustainability.

“Here in Sousse we are learning that circular business models are an ideal solution to develop our business activities, while also preserving the environment and creating jobs in our regions. For many of us entrepreneurs, we were already working in the green and circular economy, some without knowing it. Today, with the support of Mashrou3i experts, we are putting into practice our green and circular business models.”

  Sondouss Bannouri, Founder of Dasri Sterile, medical and hospital waste management (Siliana)

 

Mashrou3i (‘my project’ in Arabic) is a joint project of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation (AICS), the HP Foundation and UNIDO. Since its launch in 2016, the project has created more than 6,000 jobs and supported the creation of more than 800 enterprises in 14 interior regions of Tunisia.