“Seeing the joy in your eyes was just so inspiring”, these were the words of one the members of the American Corner Sousse after finishing a workshop on Social Entrepreneurship I animated three years ago, words that I will never forget because it means that I found what I love.
I graduated from high school with high grade (17/20). My ability to understand courses, to analyze problems and come up quickly with solutions made me one of my professors’ favorite students. I graduated with great ambitions, yet where to start? At that time, I had no clue. I followed my parents’ recommendation joining one the finest preparatory institutes for engineering studies in Tunisia and an Engineering School after that to study Energy Engineering. After 2 years, I didn’t see the value in it, and my grades were no longer as high as before. So I started my journey of discovering what I love.
One day, I joined a university club called enactus ENIM. Helping people in need, within it, starting ventures made me amazed! My devotion and my hard-working helped me become quickly the project manager of a green venture "Tounes Tbaskel" (Tunisia bikes). The project consisted on supporting a jobless father of three children, start a bikes renting agency, the first of its kind in Tunisia at that time. With a team of 12 members and a small budget of 5000$ that we have raised, we managed to implement the project successfully. Furthermore we have organized several events to promote the culture of biking and to raise the awareness of the environmental issues. Aside of being so proud, seeing the concept is starting to boom in Monastir nowadays, made me realize that to make the world a better place to live in, demands only two things: hard work and a vision: you have to think globally and act locally, and in that way, only in that way your smallest deeds can make a positive change that would grow and impact positively the lives of people on a large scale.
My adventure did not stop there as I was always looking for new challenges and new projects, projects that would keep spreading good vibes in the city and among the youth. That is when I have succeeded to obtain a TEDx License after a long process of interviews and testing, to organize for the first time in my campus a TEDx event. I was and I am still a big fan of TED, as I believe in the power of ideas to change attitudes, to learn the importance of the sharing culture to achieve common goals and ensure a better future for our communities and ultimately the world. So, I founded TEDxENIMonastir, and with a team of 30 members, we managed to organize a successful event that met with the attendees and all the guests' high expectations, who were inspired by the talks of our speakers who are some of the most influential leaders in different fields, in the country. The success of this event made it possible to set a tradition to organize TEDx events later on, aiming to keep bringing on new ideas and spreading a culture of creativity, innovation, sharing and collaboration into the city of Monastir, a city that I believe has a great potential to become the African Silicon Valley considering the several similarities.
Giving these achievements I was selected for SUSI for Student Leaders on Social Entrepreneurship program. The program, which took place at University of Connecticut in USA, aims to help develop global future leaders. I was selected by the U.S. Embassy officers in a highly competitive application process to join other student leaders from Africa. We spent 6 weeks learning about Social Entrepreneurship, Leadership and its different styles, project management, strategies to implement positive and long term social change, fundraising, Strategic Planning etc.
After finishing the exchange program and my graduation, I knew that I was not meant to work as an energy engineer, not for the present moment at least. I was so passionate about social entrepreneurship, innovation and bringing on new ideas and projects that would lead to a positive change in my community. As you know, my beloved Tunisia is living today difficult times, threatening our democracy startup and troubling our freedom that we have fought for it during our revolution. To face these challenges, we must think anew and act anew.
I believe the key solution is to lead new economic and education reforms, adopting new models based on entrepreneurship, innovation, technologies, and spreading creativity and collaboration spirit within youngsters. Tunisia, unfortunately has no natural resources. So we should focus more on our human resources and provide them with necessary support they need, to build a sustainable economy and a stronger nation. For all the above reasons, I proudly joined Enda inter-arabe, the largest microfinance institution in Tunisia and one of the top MFI around the world according to Forbes and MicroRate. Since 1990, Enda has supported more the 641.000 Tunisians, living in marginalized and rural areas with a particular focus on women, with micro-loans. These loans helped them to start micro-projects, generate some revenue and enhance their life conditions. It was all based on the principles and the vision set by Muhammad Yunus the Godfather of Microfinance. Yet, Enda has come to a conclusion, it is true that microloans provided have contributed significantly in improving lives of its beneficiaries and enabling them to better managing poverty, yet loans alone are not enough to help most of our clients escape poverty as they lacked the required set of skills to scale up their businesses.
I joined Enda as Marketing Manager, and for two years, I have worked closely with the management team, Enda consultants and partners and the top management to develop different projects and new innovative approaches, to empower these underserved population, with a particular focus on women and youth, and provide them with the necessary support and accompaniment they need to sustain and grow their small businesses. With Enda, I was ensuring multidisciplinary tasks that included basically:
- Contributing in developing youth oriented programs including training and incubation programs with Enda Training Committee, by sharing my experience and the new methodologies I have learned during my participation in SUSI program and iBDA acceleration program initiated by Yunus Social Business.
- Developing and organizing tailored events to promote entrepreneurship among the youth like Business Speed Dating and Ideation Camps.
- Managing communication campaigns and PR, by working closely with press and Media to ensure a better visibility on our projects and programs and drain more young people to sign up. I have also managed the digital marketing of Enda inter-arabe, by creating social media content on our Facebook page, supervising various data to track and evaluate continuously our digital communication , and finally identifying gaps and determining best next steps to maximize visibility.
- Identifying and Mobilizing new partners locally and internationally to further develop our programs and/or work on new projects having the same vision of empowering poor people by creating new opportunities for them.
To conclude, I have developed during the past years, set of skills and expertise relative to development project management, events management, training and coaching (as I am Certified Business Edge Trainer by the International Finance Cooperation IFC-World Bank Group), marketing and finally communication and digital marketing. I have also developed my network by meeting and working with some of the key actors in the Tunisian Ecosystem and abroad. I am at the beginning of my journey, yet I have gained remarkable skills that I will use to make difference in people lives and thrive a positive change in my beloved country, in the MENA region and in Africa.