TUNIS, 27 November 2012 – A new collaboration announced today at the International Conference on Productive Work for Youth in Tunisia and the Middle East and North Africa region will invest some USD 3.3 million in fostering sustainable employment opportunities for young people in Tunisia.
The collaboration between the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the Government of Italy, and Hewlett-Packard Company (HP) will leverage small and medium enterprises (SMEs) as an effective avenue to facilitate economic development and foster entrepreneurship in order to drive new business creation within four vulnerable, underserved regions of Tunisia: El Kef, Kairouan, Kasserine, and Sidi Bouzid.
The collaboration will focus on two key activities: improved access and quality of services provided to predominantly young entrepreneurs by local institutions, and direct capacity-building for enterprises with high employment potential.
“Unemployment among educated youths emerges as a major challenge in Tunisia and collaborations like ours that put a strong emphasis on creating employment opportunities for young people entering the workforce will help empower and equip them well into the future,” said UNIDO Director-General, Kandeh K. Yumkella.
Mara Rudman, Assistant Administrator of USAID, added: “This initiative will help enhance the knowledge and capacity of regional and local business while at the same time provide support and training for organizations that are already on the ground. Our collaboration will also provide much needed technical assistance to targeted companies, particularly those in the agribusiness, environmental and other critical sectors of Tunisia’s varied economy.”
The USAID contribution is an integral part of USAID’s USD 150 million portfolio of assistance for Tunisia that prioritizes job and business creation, export promotion, and private investment in support of Tunisia’s political transition to democracy in the wake of the Arab Spring uprisings.
The project is structured as a public and private collaboration to address jointly defined business and development objectives. Such cooperations are co-designed, co-funded, and co-managed by partners so that the risks, responsibilities, and rewards of the collaboration are equally shared.
The project will be implemented by UNIDO which draws on extensive experience in the region in assisting the creation and development of new businesses, in particular for young men and women, as well as clean production and resource efficiency
The project will also include HP’s Learning Initiative for Entrepreneurs (HP LIFE), an entrepreneurship and IT training programme that was recently expanded to be wholly available online. Since 2008, UNIDO and HP have worked together to set up 122 LIFE training Centres, certify more than 270 trainers, train more than 50,000 students and create more than 20,000 jobs in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East.
Pietro Benassi, the Ambassador of Italy in Tunisia, said: “Our partnership will reach approximately 10,000 aspiring and existing entrepreneurs, including many of Tunisia’s young people who are struggling to find employment. From that, we expect that 2,000 additional jobs will be created through this work and then ripple out to their families, friends and others over the following months and years. Our Country attaches great importance to this programme.
The Italian Development Cooperation has thus decided to further increase in 2013 its contribution to this initiative in order to extend project activities to two other priority Governorates, or rather Gafsa and Jendouba. This programme will be a way for Tunisia to facilitate local economic development and integrate into business partnership”.
Gabi Zedlmayer, HP Vice-President of sustainability and social innovation, said: “We are pooling our collective expertise and available resources to equip young people in Tunisia with relevant entrepreneurship skills to help create much needed new jobs. Our collaboration will promote innovative uses of IT that foster entrepreneurship and help create new business opportunities.”
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