Tunis is a fascinating city. I spent a week meeting with
academics, cabinet ministers, NGOs, international financial institutions and corporate
leaders ahead of GBSN’s June 11-12 annual conference. The indefatigable Dr.
Mahmoud Triki was my companion and guide. Some ten years ago, he founded the
Mediterranean School of Business. According to him, most people in Tunisia
thought his vision was crazy: not only an English-speaking school in a country
where Arabic and French are spoken, but also private, when higher education is
dominated by public sector institutions. Today MSB is unique in delivering
courses preparing students to compete in the global economy, and so offering a
high-quality alternative to studying abroad.
MSB, together with Babson College, will be
GBSN’s academic co-hosts for the annual conference. I visited the conference
hotel, La Résidence, where the Vice-Provost of Harvard University was leading a
conference of their Arab Alumni Association. The venue is spectacular (http://www.theresidence.com/tunis/default-en.html).
Mahmoud Triki, My Host:
Our conference theme: Education, Employment and
Entrepreneurship is hugely relevant to Tunisia and may other countries in the
developing world. In the wake of the
"Jasmine Revolution” of two years ago a
host of innovative initiatives have sprung up in Tunisia. The Souk At-Tanmia (Arabic for Development
Marketplace) is a partnership framework designed by the African Development Bank, which is
headquartered in Tunis, to support entrepreneurial projects, most of them
initiated by young people. Mentoring and some funding are provided by public
and private sector partner organizations. To date 3,000 projects were
submitted. Souk At-Tanmia will be a
vibrant participant in GBSN conference ‘s Innovation Showcase.
One of the main causes of unemployment, and a theme which
ran through most of my Tunis meetings, is the mismatch between educational
institutions and job opportunities. For historic reasons the education system
has much in common with that in my own country, France, which is no shining
example of entrepreneurship and job-creation. Universities produce graduates,
most of whom are trained for yesterday’s jobs and not today’s economy. Every
day employers advertise hundreds of positions they are having difficulty
filling: call centers, tourism professionals at all levels, technicians, web
developers as well as accountants and other finance professionals, and of
course, managers. Many of these jobs require English proficiency, which is
rare. Management and entrepreneurship education tailored to local needs can do
much to generate new jobs and grow the talent pool.
Our conference will focus squarely on the intersection of
management education and development. I am looking forward to your active
A street scene in Tunis...
Guy Pfeffermann is the CEO of the Global Business School Network.