Guest post by Rym Baouendi, WES Trainer and Tunisian consultant in sustainable development.
2013 is upon us, bringing new dreams and new commitments for years to come.
One of my dreams for the new year is to witness the rise of successful social enterprises across Tunisia led by bright women -and men- who are committed to social development and environmental protection.
Social Entrepreneurship is a topic that we briefly touched on during the TOT session on “home-based business and e-commerce” that I delivered in October 2012 as part of the WES program. During this session, I had the immense pleasure and privilege to work with a group of dedicated and passionate fellow Tunisians from Gafsa, Kairouan, Sfax, Sousse, Tunis and Zarsis that share a sincere commitment for the development of their regions. We discussed the potential for social entrepreneurship and how such enterprise models can go beyond income generation or “value capture” for women entrepreneurs to also create positive change and “shared value” for the wider community.
Today, only a few months after the first kick-off TOT session, it’s with immense pride that I hear about the successes of the WES trainers delivering a variety of training sessions in their regional centers to support women entrepreneurs in the process of setting up and running successful businesses. I hope that through these training sessions, the women entrepreneurs are inspired and encouraged to become change makers in their communities and create through their businesses a positive and wider impact.
Social entrepreneurship is indeed the new trend in enterprise development. We are witnessing today around the world a new wave of entrepreneurs who are attempting to resolve a range of complex challenges. These social entrepreneurs are involved in renewable energy development, waste management, organic agriculture, education, social housing, healthcare and many other fields that are creating positive change for people and the environment. The business activities that these entrepreneurs are developing go beyond financial value capture. Their businesses also try to maximize social and/or environmental benefits; and often address issues that governments, the civil society or traditional businesses have failed to address or where they haven’t been very effective.
In a developing country such as post-revolution Tunisia, the need for quick and meaningful social and economic development is pressing. It goes without saying thatenvironmental degradation is another vital issue that needs to be addressed in the process. With the government grappling with the multitude of development and environmental challenges, social entrepreneurs can identify exciting opportunities for social enterprise development to “fill in the gaps”. After two years of demanding “Work”, “Freedom” and “Dignity”, Tunisian youth and citizens in general must move beyond “demanding” to “creating their own destiny”. Enterprise development -with impact- is the way forward and problems must increasingly be viewed as opportunities if we want to create quick positive changes.
With new programs such as WES in place, more and more women are realizing their potential to be entrepreneurs and help build their communities. This is a golden opportunity for hopeful entrepreneurs to actively contribute to Tunisia’s development and achieve positive, lasting change.
Happy New Year!
Rym is a Tunisian consultant and trainer in sustainable development with more than 10 years of experience. She is married, the mother two sons and chose to work from home to balance her professional and personal responsibilities. Rym is interested in different solutions that contribute to sustainable development especially those related to the urban environment and sustainable business buildings. She is the founder and managing director of Medina Works a strategic sustainability consulting firm based in the United Arab Emirates and Founding Member of the Tunisia Green Building Council. In 2012, Rym joined the WES team to design and deliver a training of trainers on home-based business and e-commerce. Rym is based between UAE and Tunisia.