The Qatar Friendship Fund (QFF) Tunisia, Tunisiana (part of Ooredoo) and Microsoft have announced the launch of Intilaq, a TUN 28.4 million ($18 million) incubation programme to enable young entrepreneurs in Tunisia to launch ICT-related start-ups.
Intilaq is the next stage in the evolution of the Startup Factory, Tunisia’s first end-to-end support programme for start-ups launched by Tunisiana in 2012. Now, in partnership with QFF and Microsoft, the initiative is being expanded to support a comprehensive incubation programme, as well as a coaching and nationwide knowledge-sharing approach, with a particular focus on encouraging young people to pursue their entrepreneurial ambitions in the ICT sector.
Youth unemployment in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) averages at around 27 percent, with Tunisia seeing unemployment rates of 40 percent for university graduates and 24 percent for non-graduates. Ooredoo and its companies across the world are taking a multi-faceted approach to this issue, working with respected national and international partners to support entrepreneurship, employment and education programmes.
The launch of Intilaq is the latest in a series of significant initiatives to enable young people to learn more about starting their own business, and provide them with knowledge and financial resources to launch and manage a start-up.
Speaking at the launch event, H.E. Abdullah Nassir Al- Homidi, Ambassador of the State of Qatar in Tunisia and President of the Qatar Friendship Fund, said: “This step is the realisation of the aspirations and contributions of Qatar in Tunisia, with Intilaq encouraging young Tunisians to take the lead and awaken in them an entrepreneurial spirit. The Qatar Friendship Fund strives in this direction to give a significant boost to the youth, support and accompany step by step into their projects. We hope to have a direct impact on those who will build Tunisia’s tomorrow and therefore enhance its economy on the long-term.”
Kenneth Campbell, General Manager of Tunisiana, said: “This initiative will have a significant impact since it will establish a unique economic platform for start-ups, enabling the development of the sector. Last year, Startup Factory was a resounding success that discovered significant untapped potential, and today we move into higher gear with larger ambitions. The partnership between the Qatar Friendship Fund, Microsoft, and Tunisiana will allow us to continue to support entrepreneurs and their ideas into successful projects, in a sustainable and lasting way.”
Mohamed Bridaa, General Manager of Microsoft in Tunisia, said: “Intilaq is a first in Tunisia. It is a pioneering project that works to promote, develop and strengthen the capacity of Tunisian youth to propel innovation and creativity. In this sense, Microsoft will share its expertise notably in the field of Information Technology.”
Intilaq will also work as an incubator for international enterprises, adding a new dimension to incubation programmes for the region.
Young people are eagerly turning to technology to enhance their education and employability, and are a driving force behind ICT-related start-ups. In MENA, 83 percent of youth indicated their desire to set up a company, according to Ooredoo’s landmark survey, “New Horizons: Young, Arab, and Connected.”
Besides Startup Factory, Ooredoo’s ICT incubation projects include Ooredoo Algeria’s tStart and iStart, Indosat in Indonesia’sIdeabox and Ooredoo Myanmar’s Ideabox. Ooredoo and Silatechalso supported the first-ever Arab Mobile App Challenge, to encourage young people across the region to develop their own Apps.
Indosat recently received a special “Selular Award” for its efforts to encourage Indonesia’s youth to exercise their creative, innovative and entrepreneurial spirit with the IWIC, an annual innovation and mobile application contest has produced more than 2,000 innovative apps over the years.
In Myanmar, Ooredoo Myanmar recently supported the country’s first-ever “hackathon,” a “coding marathon” in which members of the technology community work together to use technology to solve special problems.