The future entrepreneurs of Medenine: can we continue together in 2018?

“Youth in Medenine are very active.” I heard this repeatedly during the recent days I spent in Tunisia’s Medenine (pronounced “mednin”), at the invitation of the lovely edgeryders there. Many attended our Social Innovation Camp, most in their early twenties and some much younger (@AnesB is 16!).

What does it mean to be active in Medenine? Most of those I met are volunteering with established organisations: peacebuilding corps, Junior Chamber International (JCI), European Voluntary Service (EVS) exchanges, and others which channel funds from the British embassy and from American donors. Someone explained it to us with wit: “we don’t have leisure opportunities in town, so we need to spend our time being active in other things” (@Elyes). It emerged in the group discussions I have been part of that aside from the active youth volunteers, there is a hunger for local entrepreneurship. Everyone agreed that Medenine needs more entrepreneurs to change the local landscape, but beyond info sessions, university lectures which people are involved in organising or participate in i.e. in Tunis, nothing really comes back to Medenine, by young entrepreneurs who would stay in town.

What I was expecting, but didn’t quite hear it, is that someone in the group is seriously turning their experience of contributing to society into a personal project, that volunteering is not a substitute for leisure or extracurriculars, but a long term personal mission, the object of sustainable work. Somehow I missed it, even though everyone agrees on a “need of opportunities”. Yosser’s determination with Our Ghema being the exception here.

This, for me, is the crux of this emerging community to provide value for its members. Can we, now all being edgeryders, create an opportunity to become the scenario for a rewarding working life? Not just another fun, learning activity, but more like a formal organisation connected to the network.

Many prerequisites for action are there already! It starts from everyone’s strong attachment to the town and the Tunisian South of which Medenine is part of. Many go outside Medenine to study but are keen on coming back (during the Camp most people were on the winter break). Aspirationally, we are checking the right box: people are keen on making a difference - changing mentality and inefficient communication loops. No wonder @anique.yael told us repeatedly: “the knowledge is in you”.

One thing missing, we found, is exposure to models, examples of how exactly others do it right - like Anis Saada, who was the more experienced in the group, a teacher and ecosystem pioneer himself who just opened the first co-working space in town. Bringing in more mentors seems like an affordable cost which Yosser’s group can take on as part of steady community building to continue the process just started. Which brings me to my last point: there is leadership. This young woman and her crowd are the most stubbornly passionate people I’ve seen in a while! I felt deeply inspired, yet with @matthias we felt having been part of this before, in Nepal, Romania, Armenia: fragile communities with potential… if only we had more time together, if only we could keep joined efforts for longer. Collaboration needs time.

This means that with @Yosser and @Zmorda, and whoever wants to keep going, we get back in the drawing room and make concrete a few next steps. Edgeryders - through our vision of OpenVillage houses - can assist as a fully committed partner. Since no one has a project they already know they want to do, the question would be: what is a service that the community and the space (say, Our Ghema - the obvious outlet by now), can provide?
Is it a communication product of @Nidhal & co? Can @Salem seed more social businesses like the ones he helped create through his volunteering? Is it a community crypto-currency that @Sohayeb is looking into? A training service by @Elyes? Is it an add-on to co-working spaces, since everyone seems to see the need?

An encouraging example of connecting the dots: it took a few conversations with @Dorsaf about how she, a bioengineer, wishes to do creative work outside the closed realms of academic work, in a place where she can experiment with her passion for genes and teach (seed planted by Anique, well done!). Hopefully she can come and spend time at the Reef in Brussels to get inspiration and start a local biohacking movement. @WinniePoncelet and his team are starting to make a living out of biohacking, surely something to share.

On a personal level, I find the diversity we’ve seen in the camp reassuring - from gender balance to the background and capabilities of everyone: business students, caretakers, personal development trainers, engineers, electronic graduates. This crowd’s mindset is so inspiring it makes anyone want to support from close and afar, and remain connected. I sure do.

Thanks so much for all the work you’ve put in Zmorda and Yosser <3
Happy new year! Bonne année à tous!


merci pour tous ces merveilleux mots simple et motivé
et oui moi qui dit ces mots @noemi

Bon Idée et ça peut être réalisé sur le terrain facilement comme nous le savons tous les rêves qui ne se transforme sur terrain ont restés seulement rêve … et je pense que je suis et tout ce que j’ai rencontrés dans Edgeryders nous avons un rêve en commun: mieux demain pour meilleure génération pour une vie meilleure :heart::heart:
Edgeryders groupe se sont des petits exemplaires de le plus part de peuple Tunisien mais avec différents mentalité et des mieux compétence
Personnellement je essayer toujours à participer à tous les activités et tout le projet dans tous la Tunisie et ce pas participer c tt nn j essayer de être un leader ce juste pour que je montre a l autre gens que le vrai handicap ce l handicap mental pas l handicap physique et alhamdoulilleh je passe mon but à l’autre gens avec succès :heart:
Et ça me rend heureux quand je trouve les edgeryders de mednine travail ensemble pour un but commun pour tous
J entrain de préparer mon projet j veux le présenter à vous quand il fini et pour koi pas vous ferez partie de mon rêve qui je cherche de transformer en réalité
Et je suis toujours disponible pour tous les prochains projet de edgeryders :heart::heart:


And thank you for coming and for sharing your knowledge with us :slight_smile: <3 Yes, I agree with what you talked about and I do see a great opportunity in Medenine and it is the reason why I am devoting myself to it… What I was discussing with @Matthias [quote=“noemi, post:1, topic:7935”]
This young woman and her crowd are the most stubbornly passionate
and this sums it up…
So what I personally notice, and it is something that is bothering me lately is that people COMPLAIN with a lot of EMOTIONS but no one is taking the lead, except for fews…
What I think is that the work shouldn’t be done over the “mentality” that everyone was talking about, but rather PUSHING people to see things in another way… and the camp did really good with that!
I do believe that Edgeryders and OurGhema can collaborate together in 2018, as I was discussing with @matthias different aspects of collaboration, I can say that we can have a bigger camp / something close to the Academy / residency … in Medenine in the future, so it turns into actions, with taking real project ideas or events and working on them … so we move from detecting problems to a more practical kind of events?


Just as after Nepal, after my time in Medenine I’m now mulling over business ideas for the place :smile: Of course I’m just an outsider who spent a few days there, so take it with two grain of salt. However, here’s a first idea that came up yesterday in a discussion with (the always inspiring) @Yosser:

Let there be a company or group of freelancers who make a living from communicating Medenine to travellers. This is mostly public communication, something close to the heart of many Medeninians in our Social Innovation Camp, and aligned with existing effort such as the upcoming Medenine tourism promo video by Saad and team.

However, it would be more encompassing. Ideas for what to include:

  • detailed business records on Google Maps and Bing Maps, and preferably also on a self-hosted map based on OpenStreetMap (that serves as the data source for the other two outlets); should include up-to-date opening times and days, photos, reviews, features (such as ATM, currency exchange etc.)
  • a map with interesting places in the surroundings, and how to get there (such as the Bani Kheddache mountains that we visited, but also all the hidden gems inside the city such as the café and museum in the ksur cave buildings)
  • detailed instructions for practicalities: how the louage taxi system works, what cab rides cost, options to come in from and leave to different cities, travel times, hotel recommendations
  • better maps (basically means OpenStreetMap hacking events where people gather map data together and contribute it to OpenStreetMap and (via change requests) also to Google Maps)
  • good photos with gelolocation (incl. “photo spheres”), creating an experience similar to Google StreetView (which is completely absent in Medenine, so “you can still win”!) … and of course we’ll want to use only open source tools for this
  • product finder: a city-wide searchable database of “who sells what, who rents what” … obviously a lot of work, but also useful for locals
  • a section on stories from Medenine and its surroundings, ideally as links to YouTube videos (… and they have great stories here, remind me to tell the one with sick sheeps, Coca Cola and small meteorites :laughing:)
  • a section on investing and living in Medenine :slight_smile:

So the basic idea is to “put Medenine on the digital map”, including all its businesses, but to offer that as a service to the small businesses who still have not much to do with “the Internet” but should be able to survive and thrive in the digital age as well.

The chance I see here is to “grab” a share of the travelers coming to Djerba and being bored in their resorts after a few days. It’s close enough for a day trip, and others might like to stay for several days as well.

And in a more visionary way, the chance is to position Medenine as a progressive “open data city”: capture and manage your city’s data yourself under open licences, don’t let Google do it for you. It’s still time, because Google has neglected Medenine so far (as per my experience from today, Google Maps covers maybe 50% of ATMs and none of the small businesses).

Budget can come from the following “paying customers”:

  • the city administration (and it should have budget for this, as the southern and interior regions are now a priority in Tunisia’s budget)
  • businesses and organizations, for the service of listing their business in Google Maps etc., keeping its information there up to date, and helping the business react to negative reviews (which relieves all the small businesses of the effort of keeping a web presence up to date)
  • travelers, via a simple PayPal donation jar on the information website
  • NGOs and governmental organizations (embassies etc.) supporting the region

Oh and:

That’s a plan, and I think this idea above has already quite some actionable items in it that would provide great learning material for such a camp, including results that are useful for Medenine. Such as, OpenStreetMap mapping (and we could persuade some of the more experienced OpenStreetMappers from abroad to join).


Thanks a bunch @noemi for coming and sharing everything with us :heart: as I said several times and confirming what you are about to say: there is no lack of ideas and potential in Medenine but the problem is with initiatives and taking actions. But in my case, I’m quite engaged in my studies and it is really hard to start a project while studying even though I have my own idea. So, for the moment, I do my best to be involved in small acts that could be somehow beneficial.
We had a lot of great discussions with @matthias before leaving and one of them was the project he mentioned, we welcomed the idea and we will try hard to make it happen.


Thanks a lot @noemi @matthias @anique.yael , after this special Camp, we do really learn many skills like how to face problems and how to take action.
So, for my group which is dealing with the topic of mentality, we decided to organize a camping event in Medenine, named “WE ARE ALL AGAINST WOMEN DESCRIMINATION”, and yeah, fortunately, people there accept us and we made wonderfull journey.
women used to not participate in such event and in this time we rock that bad mentality
To sum, after what we had learnt, something has changed in our Brain, it is like lighting a dark path by tiny tools and here some photos of our camping event


@noemi: this is a fantastic post, perhaps your very best. I completely get it. It is super-useful for those, like me, who were not at the Camp.

@Yosser: do not be disappointed. Leadership is very hard to come by, always and everywhere. My advice is this: if you think you can lead (it certainly seems so from where I stand), step up and embrace it, and work with the tools you have. Most people are not-leaders: and even leaders can only lead one effort at a time, perhaps two if they are exceptional. You should definitely demand that everyone in your group takes responsibility for something, but that is not the same thing as demanding everyone is in the lead.

@matthias: great idea, as always. It reminds me of the Matera 2019 Web Team, though your version is more business-oriented. I mentioned this because there is already a will from MT2019 to collaborate with people from the South Mediterranean. @Yosser, @zmorda: did anyone from your group answer the call from Matera? I hear they are going to re-use those applications for an event in February.


@Nejib_Ammar_5 it warms my heart to read you. thank you for taking our reflections forward and wow, so much power to you for going from brain switching into a concrete action. Is there anything we can help with? Will you be working with Yosser and others to organize the camping??

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Interesting idea you two!.. It seems like we need another camp - hackathon format - to get started and get everyone enthusiastic to work on this together.
Maybe @Sohayeb can connect us to initial funders? By the way, your map of local and regional organisations which you showed during the camp would be very useful now :stuck_out_tongue: I trust you and @zmorda to know which doors to knock…


Impressive !

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you couldn’t be any more supportiven thank you for everything, truely :blush: So yes, I have been discussing this idea with a group of people that I usually work with in Medenine ( and you have met them, all) and we are super excited about it! however now when we talk about it it seems feasible, but then, as I told you before, I am stupid with technology I have no idea how to deal with it -_-

How do we get a license for that?
and what kind of costs can be related to the digitial map?? (forgive my ignorance with this :smirk: ) I truely regret that we didn’t start working on it when you were here with us

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Yup sounds like we already have an idea for the next camp :laughing:

Thank you Alberto, and I wish we had with us :slight_smile: Now I ma sure things are going to change in here, as I am not the only one working on it, we have some good people in Medenine who are already taking different actions … I missed the call of Matera sadly!


What an inspiring review! It’s hard to capture these things in words, so it speaks highly of the event :slight_smile: Bummed that I had to miss it.

I’d be more than excited to pass on all we have learned to you @Dorsaf ! You are welcome to come over and spend time with us. Several of us have been in your position and are now making it work for us professionally, a blessing we’d love to share. Same for others who are into social entrepreneurship: we’ve learned a thing or two.

This energy makes Medenine sound appealing for travel already. I’m still looking for a holiday destination later this month. What can one expect? :smiley: if you help me get around, I don’t mind writing some blogs/wikis about my experience. @Yosser @matthias


Hello Winnie :smiley: you re welcome here anytime you wish! I will be here for the next few months before I go to Morroco, so I can be your local guide in here :slight_smile: ( also @matthias can be your guide now, he already knows a lot about Medenine :smiley: )

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You’ll be more than welcome @winnieponcelet :blush:

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We had a lot of great discussions with @matthias before leaving and one of them was the project he mentioned, we welcomed the idea and we will try hard to make it happen.

Oh, I like that! When you take action around that idea (let’s call it “Medenine Digital” for now), you may let me know. I will free up some time to contribute where I can, even though it will still be not a lot. But for sure you and team deserve that :slight_smile:

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lighting a dark path by tiny tools

Great phrase.

And the picture at the top of the topic is just beautiful.

Noemi, Alberto said it all. Your best.

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Salut @noemi
je suis très heureux d’avoir des amis qui m’encouragent et me supportent. En fait, je travaille maintenant sur un projet de camping en pleine nature avec Thouraya , Ameni et Saleh (les membres de groupe mentalité), nous allons restaurer une ancienne maison berbère qui se situe à Benikhdech, délégation de Medenine et la transformer en une sorte de résidence moderne et écologique. Cette maison d’hôte aura la capacité de presque 60 personnes.
Notre projet a pour objectif d’encourager les femmes et même les jeunes couples de se libérer de toutes contraintes idéologiques et d’essayer de vivre en pleine nature et travailler sur leur projet.
S’éloigner du stress de la ville, s’occuper sur son bien-être au sein de la nature et acceuillir des amis qui acceptent la différence et qui sont totalement tolérants.
j’espère que ma proposition attire l’attention de la communauté d’Edgeryders et que tout le monde puisse m’aider de la Tunisie ou d’ailleurs, toujours soyez les bienvenus chez (c’est le nom de mon projet), Merci pour le Brain storming @anique.yael !!!


@johncoate, thank you for supporting us :blush: , and of course, you’re welcome in our new residency that will take place here in Medenine before Mars 2018