GIST I-Hub: Tunisia – El Space Social Innovation Hub

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El Space is focused on growing the knowledge base within the startup ecosystem in Tunisia so that entrepreneurs have a better understanding of how to start and scale. As a GIST Innovation Hub, El Space will leverage the GIST Network’s global connections as a way to link Tunisian entrepreneurs with resources and build a sustainable startup ecosystem in Tunisia.


At a Glance:

I-Hub: El Space Social Innovation Hub


Location: Tunis, Tunisia

Startups: 20 members that include entrepreneurs, freelancers and the core El Space team

Sectors: Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Impact Investing, Socioeconomic Development



A Closer Look at El Space:

Entrepreneurs in Tunisia struggle against several structural and institutional constraints, according to Salsabil Dkhil, executive and programs manager for El Space. She said constraints include high financial, legal and political barriers, as well as a lack of information available to entrepreneurs about starting and scaling a business. These barriers diminish the startup ecosystem in Tunisia and inhibit a successful socioeconomic transformation of the country. As the first social innovation hub in Tunisia, El Space is actively working to break down those barriers to entrepreneurs.

Through several programming initiatives, that include training sessions, workshops and an active partnership with the U.S. Embassy in Tunis, El Space is building the knowledge base necessary for Tunisian startups to successfully start and scale. Dkhil noted that the power of El Space in the entrepreneurial ecosystem is directly related to the entrepreneurial knowledge of its individual members and how they share that knowledge. To increase its catalytic power in Tunisia, El Space joined the GIST Innovation Hub (I-Hub) program as a way to provide its members a broader network of knowledge and resources they can use locally.

“In Tunisia, where access to information is extremely limited, the networking approach seems to play the major role in strengthening and growing entrepreneurial skills and businesses,” said Dkhil. “We strongly believe that having a GIST Innovation Hub in Tunisia will enable us to empower and better serve our young science and technology entrepreneurs through a strong local community and international network through GIST Network’s global connections.”

As a GIST I-Hub, El Space will establish itself as a networking-based hub that will allow entrepreneurs with limited resources to engage within a supportive and accessible community. Through the GIST Network’s connections and programming, El Space will help its entrepreneurs acquire new skills and develop impact-driven innovations. Over the longer term, Dkhil hopes this type of partnership will break down barriers for entrepreneurs and fuel Tunisia’s socioeconomic development over the next several years.


El Space Updates:

El Space Launches Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation Workshops

Designed by El Space in partnership with the American Center at the U.S. Embassy in Tunis, this series of 12 workshops provided an introduction to concepts in social entrepreneurship and innovation. Participating entrepreneurs not only learned about these concepts, they also learned how to think critically and implement sustainable solutions to social and environmental problems facing Tunisia. Learn more.


El Space Designs Pitch Competition for Tunisian Entrepreneurs

In partnership with Mercy Corp, El Space designed the 48hrs Countdown project. Taking place in just 48 hours, entrepreneurs attended intensive workshops, developed their projects and pitched their ideas to a panel of experts judges who awarded seed funding to the winners. The program included entrepreneurs from all over Tunisia and who learned new social, technological and marketing skills for their businesses.


Training Sessions Empower Tunisians to become Entrepreneurs

El Space hosted a series of training sessions for people who have an idea but limited entrepreneurship experience to launch their idea into a business. The training sessions focused on simple, understandable and practical concepts in entrepreneurship to help the participants learn and understand how to found a startup and help it grow.

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