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Visiting Tunis in the Wake of the Jasmine Revolution

Posted By Guy Pfeffermann, Thursday, March 28, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Guy PfeffermannTunis 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:

Mahmoud Triki by a blue door 

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 participation.

A street scene in Tunis...

A street scene in Tunis

 

Guy Pfeffermann is the CEO of the Global Business School Network.


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