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 the situation of the social and solidarity-based economy (SSE) in the Mediterranean. Since then, iesMed has participated in the first European program about SSE on 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 was not a coincidence. Indeed, the 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, who lived on its territory and left their mark. This makes the current Tunisian society a mosaic of realities inspired from multiple corners of the Mediterranean.
In this small country of 11 million inhabitants and an area of 164.000 km2 (a quarter of the size of France), agriculture plays a leasing role, with products such as cereals, olive oil and dates, in addition to 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) provide fertile ground for iesMed’s activities.
Since 2014, iesMed has had the opportunity to work in 4 Tunisian regions (Sidi Bouzid, Mahdia, Jendouba and Kasserine), providing trainings for entrepreneurs and for public workers on SSE. Spaces for cooperation and coordination between civil society, public administration and the private sector were set up in order to optimize the existing resources and to give more opportunities to the development of SSE jobs.
Following several years of continuous work and dedication, the first two associations called CitESS were created in Sidi Bouzid and Mahdia in 2017. In these CitESS, local associations as well as universities, entrepreneurs, public employment agencies and local authorities are represented. Below you will find the links to both CitESS’s homepages, where you can see what they are working on:
- Sidi Bouzid
Marking our firm commitment to Tunisia’s key role in developing the SSE in the Mediterranean, iesMed inaugurated its Tunis office (151 avenue de la Liberté, place Pasteur) in May 2017, with a team of 5 staff (1 in the central office and 4 in the territories).