The International Youth Foundation (IYF) and the Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) have awarded four initial grants to local non-governmental organizations to support Tunisia Works, a recently launched program to expand job training and community service opportunities for the country’s youth. The Tunisia Works initiative aims to address the country’s high youth unemployment rates by building the capacity of local organizations to support high-quality youth employability, entrepreneurship, and civic engagement projects in four regions of the country. These activities, which are expected to benefit 4,400 youth over the next two years, are of particular importance as Tunisian civil society grows and develops following the January 14, 2011 revolution. The first round of one-year grants will support the following organizations’ activities:

  • The Association Tunisienne pour l'Entrepreneuriat et l'Essaimage (ATUPEE) will promote the culture of entrepreneurship among Tunisian youth. In addition to reaching a total of 300 youth through awareness-raising activities, ATUPEE will support 50 young potential entrepreneurs in launching their businesses through individualized mentoring and links to support structures.
  • The Association de Développement Technologique (ADT) will address the problem of high unemployment among Tunisian youth by providing employability and entrepreneurship training and support for 340 youth in the Ben Arous governorate. Participants will receive life skills training before choosing to follow either an employment or an entrepreneurship track.
  • The Association des Habitants d’El Mourouj 2 will combat youth unemployment and social exclusion while also promoting the positive role of young people in their communities by providing life skills training and support for community service projects to 120 youth in the El Mourouj neighborhood.
  • Création et Créativité pour le Développement et l’Embauche (CCDE) will provide 150 unemployed college graduates from Ras Jebel with employability and entrepreneurship training and support. Participants will receive personalized coaching, life skills training, and support as they pursue either an employment or an entrepreneurship track.

“Tunisia’s greatest asset is its youth—who are creative, talented, and determined to advance the transition and create a more prosperous and participatory society. MEPI is proud of its work with youth and of its partnerships with local organizations working with Tunisia’s youth. Our partners help aspiring youth realize their potential through education, training, and support for entrepreneurs,” said Thomas Vajda, Director of the US Department of State’s Middle East Partnership Initiative.

Currently, the Tunisia Works program is being implemented in Bizerte governorate and the Greater Tunis area, and will soon scale up to reach the governorates of Béja and Jendouba. In addition to carrying out youth-focused activities, each organization receiving a Tunisia Works grant will benefit from individualized, hands-on capacity building support from IYF. Those activities will include workshops, coaching sessions, and peer-to-peer learning exchanges. IYF will use its global experience and best practices in youth development to support these capacity building efforts.

By the end of the program, it is expected that 60 percent of the 4,400 youth participants (ages 18 to 35) will either be placed in internships or jobs or be starting their own businesses. In addition, a nationwide network of youth-serving organizations will be created and linked virtually to share lessons learned, best practices, and success stories. This alliance will help strengthen public-private partnerships in Tunisia dedicated to improving the prospects and conditions of the country’s underserved and unemployed youth.