International cooperation projects in support of entrepreneurship in southern Tunisia: activities and relations with public actors

In Tunisia, international cooperation projects in support of entrepreneurship boomed after the 2011 revolution. This paper analyses to what extent such projects have built the capacities of those involved in local entrepreneurial “ecosystems”. It analyses the main international cooperation projects supporting entrepreneurship in the Kebili and Medenine governorates (southern Tunisia) between 2011 and 2020. The activities of these projects were mapped and two workshops were conducted with actors of the local entrepreneurial ecosystems to discuss their implementation.
Fourteen international cooperation projects were identified. These projects mostly focused on increasing the number of enterprises created, e.g., by supporting training, networking and sometimes funding. However, only one project provided support after creation of businesses, and few promoted a culture of entrepreneurship. Overall, these projects generally based their actions on the existing ecosystem of public actors in charge of supporting entrepreneurship. They made limited attempts to build the capacities of those actors, evaluate the functioning of local entrepreneurial ecosystems and coordinate among themselves.