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Mashrou3i’s online Business Challenge awards high-potential student entrepreneurs

November 11, 2020

The project Mashrou3i’s first virtual Business Challenge for ISET students was held on Tuesday, November 10, 2020 crowning 3 students from ISET Médenine, Béja and Siliana.

11 November 2020, Tunis – After an exciting online pitching contest, with diverse project ideas, the Mashrou3i project announced the winners of its Business Challenge. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the final was held online and livestreamed for the first time.

Nearly 300 student entrepreneurs from 16 higher education institutions, who received HP LIFE training provided by the Mashrou3i project, took part in the competition. On Tuesday, the 11 best finalists went head to head during the virtual event, pitching their business model canvas and vision to a panel of judges comprised of experts from Tunisia’s entrepreneurial ecosystem including Leila Ben-Gacem (founder of Blue Fish), Sonia Barbaria (ABD), Lemia Chekir-Thabet (UNIDO, PAMPAT), Wided Hasnaoui (Tunisia JOBS) and Ali Mnif (Silatech).

“This event is the result of a fruitful collaboration between Mashrou3i’s experts, educators and students from ISETs and partner institutions in more than 14 regions of Tunisia. What brings us together today – students, professors, opinion leaders and business managers – is the spirit of entrepreneurship and empowerment.” Antoine Bureau, National Coordinator of the project Mashrou3i in Tunisia

After 2 hours of careful deliberation by the panel of judges and observers, the winners of the competition were announced in a ceremony livestreamed on social media. The winning project ideas stood out not only for their innovation, but also for the quality of their Business Model Canvas presentation, ensuring the future success of their projects.

  • First Prize: Kawther Najmi (camel leather watch straps), Medenine
  • Second Prize: Nadhir Ghali (3D printing), Beja
  • Third Prize: Ghaith Hannachi (ecotourism), Siliana

“Through this Business Challenge and the pitching of project ideas by 11 ISET students, we were able to see that potential exists all over the country. This proves once again that the need to encourage and support youth in our regions is essential to foster entrepreneurship and give added value in each of our regions.” Lemia Chekir-Thabet, market access expert for the PAMPAT project at UNIDO.

The winners were awarded a laptop for first prize, and a tablet for second and third prize, as well as several hours of entrepreneurial training provided by Mashrou3i to help them realize their project ideas. Kawther Najmi from Médenine won first prize for her project which adds value to the region’s camel leather through the production of watch straps.

“To all those who doubt the potential of their ideas, I want to encourage them to continue and never give up. Thanks to the HP LIFE e-learning program for students I was able to turn my idea into a real business project.” Kawther Najmi, student entrepreneur from Medenine.

This competition marks the continuation of a partnership launched between the project Mashrou3i and the ISET network in 2016 to promote entrepreneurial culture among youth and strengthen managerial skills from university. The project Mashrou3i is a public-private partnership between the Tunisian government, USAID, the Italian Cooperation and HP Foundation, and implemented in Tunisia by UNIDO. Through training, in-depth coaching and technical assistance, Mashrou3i aims to create nearly 6,000 jobs by 2021 and train nearly 5,000 students in entrepreneurship within 14 regions of the country.