iesMed has a very special relationship with Tunisia since 2012 when the preparation of the MedESS 2013 event took place. It was a conference in which more than 600 people from 100 different countries met in order to analyse and discuss about the situation of social and solidarity-based economy (SSE) in the Mediterranean. Since then, iesMed has participated in the first European program about SSE in the southern shores of the region (the IESS! Project: Employability Initiatives in Social and Solidarity-Based Economy) and has created the first Mediterranean CitESS (“cities of SSE”) in Sidi Bouzid and Mahdia.

Choosing Tunisia is not a coincidence. Indeed, this small country is taking up the big challenge of transitioning from a dictatorial political regime to an increasingly consolidated democracy. Throughout its history, Tunisia has been strongly influenced by different cultures and people which lived in its territory and left their mark. This makes the current Tunisian society a mosaic of realities inspired from multiple Mediterranean corners.

 

map-tunisieThis little country, with 11 million inhabitants and a 164.000 km2 area (a quarter of the size of France), has a clear agricultural vocation in which the production of cereals, olive oil and dates is of significance, as well as other key sectors like mining (mainly phosphates) or tourism. Those sectors, together with an active and educated civil society and a government that wants to rely on SSE as a motor for development (a high priority in the 2016-2020 Development Program) are building a good opportunity for what iesMed does.

Since 2014, iesMed has had the opportunity to work in 4 Tunisian regions (Sidi Bouzid, Mahdia, Jendouba and Kasserine) in which it has provided trainings for entrepreneurs and for public workers on SSE. Space for cooperation and coordination between civil, administration and private actors have been set up, in order to optimize the existing resources and to give more opportunities to the development of SSE jobs.

As a result of the hard work achieved over the last few years, the first two associations called CitESS were created in Sidi Bouzid and Mahdia in 2017. In these CitESS, locals associations as well as universities, entrepreneurs, public services for employment and local authorities are represented. Below you will find the link to each of the CitESS webpage where you can see what they are working on:

As a mark of our firm and dedicated commitment that Tunisia plays a key role in developing the SSE in the Mediterranean, iesMed inaugurated in May 2017 its office in Tunis (151 avenue de la Liberté, place Pasteur) with a team of 5 people (1 in the central office and 4 in the territories).