Market Analysis

Leila Charfi (Tunisia) - Rebuilding Tunisia Through Local Innovation

The "revolution for freedom and dignity" in Tunisia (that's how we refer to it in Tunisia), on January 24th, 2011, has provided a fresh start for the country and its citizens. This signals new hope, a new wave of freedom, new opportunities and an optimistic vision for the future of the citizens and society.

Now, six months after the revolution, we are at the construction level. Elections for the constitution assembly are being organized for October 23rd, 2011. Over 100 parties have been created from all the political tendencies; right wing, left wing, conservative and progressive.On the social side, hundreds of associations have been created in all parts of the country by individuals and groups to help citizens. They protect values and principles of the revolution; protecting freedom and teaching democractic fundamentals; and improve the health system - as well as many other aspects of Tunisian social life. 

This wave of freedom has given all citizens the courage to express their views, act on issues important to them and construct a new Tunisia with values of freedom, dignity and democracy. On the business side, this wave of freedom is bringing a large spectrum of new opportunities; including entrepreneurship, investment, partnerships and innovation.

Tunisia has long been known for the quality of its engineers. In the past however, many of them moved abroad and found good positions in well-known companies across Europe or North America. Few of them were entrepreneurs who wanted to create their own companies within Tunisia. Today, I am so pleased to say that we are observing a change in mindset - that every Tunisian citizen can build something new and create value for the country. They can participate in local innovation and secure opportunities - locally and internationally. Many people are moving back to the country and settling down here. They are bringing with them their expertise, their connections and a huge interest from foreign investors in new projects.

At Microsoft Tunisia we have always had a focus on supporting the development of Tunisia's software industry through innovation and entrepreneurship. In particular through our work at the Microsoft Innovation Center that was opened in 2007. Multiple programs, like BizSpark, the Annual Startup Program, and the Microsoft Partner Network programs, has helped hundreds of entrepreneurs create new innovative projects and develop sustainable Tunisian companies with local technological expertise. As part of the programs offered, the beneficiaries benefit from technological trainings and certification, managerial training, fund, business opportunities as well as help to connect and hire the right technological resources. This all points to building strong software development teams composed of efficient Tunisian engineers.

After the revolution, we sponsored and created additional programs for entrepreneurs, we have offered more managerial training, technical workshops and certifications for startups, and we are connecting these new startups to existing Microsoft partners to enable partnership and business opportunities in the country.

One particularly young entrepreneur we have been working with, Afif Bouchoucha, from the city of Gafsa, recently benefited from a newly created program for entrepreneurs, jointly created by Microsoft, and by other technological and financial partners. In record time he was able to get managerial training and funding to start his own business; as well as partnership opportunities to develop his software project. Something he would never have thought possible previously!

Tunisian citizens amplified the revolution using technology and the Internet; today they will build a new Tunisia by developing innovative projects with their free spirit and big ideas. Our goal is to see Tunisian companies competing in the global economy, demonstrating excellence in technology innovation and solidifying a free Tunisia as a new destination for partnership, business opportunities and investment in the information technology sector.


By Leila Charfi, director of Microsoft innovation center, Tunisia


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