MAPPING THE AGRI-FOOD ECOSYSTEM IN THE MENA REGION
An Introduction to Food, Agriculture and Water Ecosystems in The Middle East and North Africa
Part X – Tunisia
At Kök Projekt, we conduct research, prepare reports and create databases to understand the world of food, agriculture, and water. Last year we shared several maps on Turkish food, agriculture, and water entrepreneurship ecosystems. In 2021, we dived into the MENA Region and shared nine maps so far. The MENA Region has great potential for entrepreneurship. The young and tech-savvy population is very eager to take advantage of the digital world. According to a McKinsey report, an average of 88% of the MENA region population is online daily, and 94% of the population owns a smartphone (1). Moreover, Magnitt report that the MENA Region-based start-ups saw a record of USD1BN investment in 2020 (2). The investment volume is showing that the region has a high potential for entrepreneurship.
In our tenth map for the MENA Region research, we’ve focused on the Tunisia ecosystem. We looked for the stakeholders in the agri-food entrepreneurship world. Many governmental organizations, incubators, accelerators, companies, start-ups, and other ecosystem players work for a better food and agriculture system in Tunisia. We searched and put them on our map.
Ecosystems are complex, multiplayer structures in which many actors interact to enable entrepreneurial growth. We aim to understand this complex world and gain greater visibility of Tunisia’s ecosystem with this map.
Tunisia Entrepreneurship Ecosystem
Geography and Demographics
Tunisia borders Algeria to the west, Libya to the south and east, and the Mediterranean Sea to the north. Thus, it has a strategic position as a bridge between Europe and Africa. The country also has over 1.000km of coastline and a strong tradition of commerce and openness to the broader Mediterranean region(3). The country’s strategic location permits it to reach the most prominent countries easily in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa with a short flight. The country has an 11 million population, and the median age is 32.7.
According to the Global Entrepreneurship Index (GEI) published by the Global Entrepreneurship and Development Institute (GEDI), Tunisia ranked second in Africa, based on 14 values measuring the health of the ecosystem (4).
BUILDING THE MAP
We started our research to understand which governmental organizations are working for a thriving entrepreneurship ecosystem. Tunisia’s government is very active in creating an enabling ecosystem for entrepreneurs. In 2018, The Tunisian Parliament passed the Tunisian Startup Act. The Act has three aspects. The first one is a legal framework simplifying the start-up launch. The second is creating a €200m Funds of Funds, and finally, a strategy to consolidate ecosystem and hubs in Tunisia(4). We believe that governments and public organizations play a pivotal role in driving the growth of the entrepreneurship ecosystem. You will discover governmental, public, and non-profit organizations that work for Tunisia’s blooming entrepreneurship ecosystem on our map.
Corporates: Partnership with Startups
As Kök Projekt, we are an innovation partner for the food, agriculture, and water sector companies. We follow them carefully. They organize programs and sponsor events. They also offer incubator and accelerator programs to reap the benefits of innovation. One example of corporate support for the entrepreneurship ecosystem in Tunisia is Orange Fab Lab Acceleration Program(5). The support includes an acceleration program, developing business models through funding, career coaching workshops, and more. In our Tunisia Agri-Food Ecosystem map, you will find many companies from various sectors such as food production, CPG, finance, agricultural production, etc.
As Kök Projekt, we are an agri-food start-up accelerator. We follow start-ups from all over the world carefully. We used our database and searched on the internet for developments in Tunisia’s food and agriculture start-up world to create our map. Tunisia has a small but promising agri-food start-up ecosystem. For example, last year, Next Protein, an agricultural biotech company, raised €10.2 million(6). The company uses organic waste to raise black soldier fly larvae for animal feedstocks. You will find many start-ups on our map working on various fields from smart farming, marketplace/e-commerce, cleantech, delivery, etc.
Incubator & Accelerator & Support Organizations
Creating a startup is a huge challenge; entrepreneurs find themselves on a long journey with unexpected detours and roadblocks. Incubators, accelerators, co-working spaces, and support platforms are the primary helpers for the entrepreneurship journey. They help startups by providing comprehensive support such as mentors, investor access, acceleration, and incubation programs. Tunisia is home to some of the best options. There are many incubators, accelerators, entrepreneurship support organizations, and co-working spaces that we put on our map in the Tunisia ecosystem.
Events: Make Networking Easier
Events are the best way for startups to network with investors and to make new connections. In Tunisia, there are Afric’up, Gen Tunisia, Riyada, and Startup Tunisia events.
Operating a start-up can be an exhaustive, expensive, and arduous process. Investment funds are critical players for the primary concern of startup: Funding. Investors could help entrepreneurs by providing capital to start their businesses. Investment Funds, VCs assist startups’ business plans; they work for the best use of capital to realize their profit-oriented vision. In Tunisia, we see a high government commitment and privately held VCs to support the ecosystem. In 2018, The Tunisian Parliament created €200m Funds of Funds with the Tunisian Startup Act(4). You will find many privately held or government-backed investment funds and investors on our map.
This is not a full-scale map of the Tunisian Agri-Food Ecosystem.
You can reach our 2021 Tunisia Agri-Food Ecosystem Map here.