Fast Track: 50 agripreneurs from Tunisia’s interior gain support to turn their business ideas into reality

May 14, 2018

Unemployment is a major challenge, particularly in Tunisia’s interior regions. However, there are many untapped opportunities in the agri-business sector, offering new hope for local-economic development and job creation.

In this context, during April, 58 entrepreneurs from 7 different regions (Kef, Jendouba, Béja, Siliana, Kasserine, Sidi Bouzid and Kairouan) participated in Fast Track, a mentoring contest in the field of agribusiness. It was an opportunity for entrepreneurs to gain specific training on the development of their business model in order to turn their love of farming and agriculture into a viable business.

Fast Track is an initiative of the German non-governmental organization Enpact, funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH.

“We wanted to harmonize the activities of the entrepreneurial ecosystem and strengthen synergies between partners on a joint project. (…) As a technical partner and backer, it is through projects such as FAST TRACK that we can have a positive impact on the civil society by promoting employability and entrepreneurship.”

Matthias Schnier, Manager Entrepreneurship & Rural Employment – GIZ

Working in partnership for the benefit of young entrepreneurs

The Fast Track project also draws on the resources of various private and public actors in the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Tunisia and internationally, including the Agency for the Promotion of Agricultural Investments (APIA), CIFODE’COM and the Mashrou3i Project of the United Nations Development Organization (UNIDO) to support with the selection of agripreneurs and follow-up of the workshops.

“We are proud to be involved in the Fast Track project and to help empower young agripreneurs in the regions through mentoring. By working in partnership we can have more impact in promoting entrepreneurship and business creation among youth.”

Petra Wenitzky, Project Manager, UNIDO Mashrou3i Project.

Fast Track focuses on a specific step in the business creation process: the project modeling. From ideation to execution, the entrepreneur goes through crucial stages in the development of their project that will ensure the viability of their business. Modeling the business plan for young agripreneurs is certainly the part that requires the most investment. This is where Fast Track comes in.

FAST TRACK, a springboard for young entrepreneurs

“Through the Enpact workshops, and our specific approach of vertical (mentor-entrepreneur) and horizontal (entrepreneur-entrepreneur) learning, we encourage future entrepreneurs to share not only their knowledge but also their challenges in order to co-develop solutions and overcome obstacles so that they can realize their project ideas.”

Wail Daoud, Program Manager – Enpact

The Fast Track project provides an accelerated path for young entrepreneurs to realize their business plans and access additional training and mentoring programs. The contest mainly targets startups in the advanced phase of their idea development, before the business creation, which are rooted in the agricultural and agro-food sector in the regions of Kef, Jendouba, Béja, Siliana, Kasserine, Sidi Bouzid and Kairouan. During the various stages of the competition, entrepreneurs will attend different training workshops helping them to perfect their BMC (Business Model Canvas) and to practice pitching.

“The Fast Track project, to which CIFODECOM has been a partner since its launch, is a good initiative to strengthen the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Tunisia. It has created a dynamic in the interior regions for youth in these areas, but also identify future entrepreneurs with high potential. “

Mr. Abdelhakim Guesmi, ICT Engineer and Project Manager – CIFODECOM

“APIA’s favorite area is the technical support of young agripreneurs in launching their projects. The concept of mentoring is still new to us, it was in itself a real learning for the Agency that we hope to reiterate with Enpact for future editions of Fast Track.”

Monia Ben Romdhane, Director of Business Creation Assistance – APIA

A mentoring tour in 7 regions of the north and center of the country

During the first round of Fast Track, 58 young entrepreneurs were supported in the development of their entrepreneurial ideas in two workshops, each for two days. Supported by 10 mentors and coaches, they were able to work on basic methods such as the Business Model Canvas and pitching. They also learned new social and life skills. At the end of these workshops, the mentors and coaches judged the project ideas according to several criteria and determined the 30 best ideas that will enter the final round on Sunday, May 13th. Entrepreneurs selected for this final phase will be challenged on their ability to present their project to a jury in the hope of winning 1,300 euros and a scholarship for an international mentoring program.