Entrepreneurship is booming in the Arab World. Tunisia, as a democratic country going through political and economic reforms, aims to become its regional hub. Co-working spaces are mushrooming while start-ups are the go-to path for many talented fresh graduates. However, the education system remains disconnected from the world of entrepreneurship and entrepreneurs are often self-taught. Moreover, West-North Africa remains disconnected from the major hubs of entrepreneurship in North America. This is a gap that the Tunis Center aims to fill. Our partners BIAT and Africinvest are particularly interested in this field, and so are the US Embassy and the Ministry of Higher Education.
Columbia's flagship project in Tunisia is called Fostering Entrepreneurship in Engineering Education in Tunisia, or Open Startup Tunisia. It involves the Global Centers, the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) at Columbia University and several leading Tunisian universities. The project started in 2015, with the aim of introducing elements of an entrepreneurship curriculum in engineering schools, and building an ecosystem that would support entrepreneurial activities in the Tunisian context. The idea would be to make annual competitions for students to pitch their ideas in a series of steps. The winning team would fly to New York and compete with CU students.
The Tunis Center will also work with Columbia Business School to host Executive Education programs. Tunis is centrally located between Algiers and Tripoli. It has therefore the possibility to become a hub for companies working in Tunisia, Algeria and Libya and willing to offer their staff Columbia education. This may be expanded to the rest of Western and Northern Africa.
Furthermore, because of the Tunis Center's connection with Tunisia's most important business groups, we will look for internships and placement opportunities dedicated to Columbia students in Tunisia and the region.
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