How can we empower and connect the local entrepreneurial ecosystem in Tunis and Amman and help them create new solution to improve sustainable production & consumption as well as create a better future for renewable energy?
Countries: Jordan, Tunisia, Germany
- Hosting of local Bootcamps in Amman and Tunis to inspire and empower people to become entrepreneurs and develop ideas
- Selection of most promising solutions in each location
- Bootcamp in Berlin to bring together teams from both countries, connect them to the Berlin ecosystem and help them further develop their solution
Accelerate MENA was a bilingual program (English – French) developed to inspire, build and connect social innovation ecosystems in the MENA region. Kicking off the program in Jordan and Tunisia, the project consisted of:
- Identifying key stakeholders and building an outreach network in Jordan and Tunisia including universities, existing projects, support institutions and innovation formats.
- 2.5-day ideation bootcamps in Amman and Tunis in English and French, in which solutions addressing SDG 12 and 7 were developed using Design Thinking.
- Impact Week in Berlin with the winning teams of each bootcamp to refine their solution developed and to connect them with each other as well as to the German social innovation ecosystem.
- Online mentoring for the winning teams.
We believe that the best approach to address today’s challenges is to build and support local and global ecosystems of motivated people who want drive change. Innovation is not always Silicon Valley – Anyone can come up with new ideas that solve problems we face. Topped with inspiration, guidance, the right tools and skill set, these ideas can quickly turn into real projects with real impact.
Accelerate MENA equipped our participants with the tools to develop responsible and inclusive business models around challenges that matter – be it Sustainable Consumption and Production (SDG 12) in Jordan or Renewable Energy (SDG 7) in Tunisia – and connected them to the right stakeholders. By running two-day Design Thinking innovation bootcamps in Amman and Tunis as well as an acceleration training in Berlin, Accelerate MENA aimed to strengthen the MENA social entrepreneurship scene through three core elements:
- Inspire – Inspire individuals to get active and create solutions that have a positive impact
- Enable – Enable an entrepreneurial mindset to create sustainable business solutions using Design Thinking
- Connect – Connect the local ecosystems within and between Jordan, Tunisia, and Germany to scale
The participants developed several ideas ranging from using biomass to empower small towns in Tunisia by producing and selling their own energy, to building a co-creation space for artists upcycling plastic, or designing energy-efficient housing in the dead sea regions.
Design Thinking can unleash creativity in Jordan
There are a lot of highly motivated people in Jordan, especially young students, who are eager and motivated to get involved in starting an impact project. However, there are not enough creative offers that encourage ideation yet, and Design Thinking is still a new concept. Closely connected to that, Design Thinking experts and trainers are quite rare. During the workshop we were amazed to see how open the bootcamp participants were to the process and how much energy they put into the team and project work. The final pitches at the end of the workshop in front of a jury pushed the participants to develop their idea further – they were on fire!
Creative Workshops are nice; but follow-ups make the difference
Apart from the high energy of the participants, we were overwhelmed to see that many existing projects had an implicit impact focus already, especially in Amman and the surrounding areas. While there are existing support opportunities for young entrepreneurs in Amman, such as the Zain campus where our bootcamp took place, enpact or Oasis 500, follow-up support opportunities for early stage ideas are still rare. Although the level of motivation was high, participants who came to our bootcamp with an idea often struggled to create a business model making their project or startup financially sustainable. There is a big demand for developing a skill set to push ideas further.
Need for more business modelling to make ideas come alive
Concluding, especially in the early project stages ranging from ideation to follow-up support for projects that have not turned into a business yet, support and funding is lacking. We had the feeling that many good ideas were not followed up upon, as incubation or mentoring opportunities to work on the business side were missing. Design Thinking and co-working are slowly arriving in Jordan, but were not common buzzwords yet.
Similar to Jordan, we loved how many female participants came to our workshop. The teams were very gender-inclusive and collaboration was highly encouraged. Although gender inclusivity and rights is of course still a big topic in the region, within the small context of our workshop and probably also within the younger age group it felt very natural to have diverse teams.
Strengthening Tunisia’s early-stage entrepreneurship ecosystem
Feedback we received from several ends indicated that the entrepreneurship ecosystem in Tunisia is still very early-stage with few players, support institutions and co-working spaces in the field. Especially amongst the older generation, becoming a founder is not yet as accepted as working for bigger corporates. Consequently, funding and investment is still a big topic and so is bureaucracy.