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Self-confidence and the opportunity to be a role model to others.” These are the two answers that Ms. Fedoua Derouiche, Director of International Cooperation at Tunisia’s Ministry of Women, Family, Children and Seniors, gives when asked what women in rural Tunisia will gain if they expand their small or medium-sized enterprise (SME).

A new women’s entrepreneurship program launched by her Ministry will provide training and financial credits to selected SMEs based on a value chain analysis and employability prospects, especially for rural women who represent more than 70% of the agricultural workforce.

Despite the wide scope of this program, Ms. Derouiche has a valuable resource to help her make it a success: a Canadian expert in women’s entrepreneurship, who will provide assistance through the Technical Assistance Partnership (TAP), funded by Global Affairs Canada (GAC).

Funded by Global Affairs Canada (GAC), the TAP project matches Canadian experts work with national entities in countries eligible for Canada’s official development assistance. Through TAP, Canadian Embassy in Tunis saw an opportunity to assist the Ministry with this innovative initiative. The Ministry subsequently worked with Canadian Embassy staff to set the parameters of the technical assistance required.

“Canada has been an important development partner for Tunisia for many years,” said Ms. Derouiche. “We’ve worked with Canada successfully on some large projects. When we had the opportunity to have a Canadian join this new program as an advisor, it seemed like a good match.”

Alinea International, as GAC’s implementing partner for TAP, is coordinating the provision of technical assistance by the selected expert in women’s entrepreneurship. The consultant will provide guidance and motivation for the Ministry’s new program.

Canada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy (FIAP) is a key vehicle for the TAP and its technical assistance initiatives. Canada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy (FIAP) is a key driver for TAP and its Technical Assistance Initiatives. The MAFFEPA program has a strong alignment with the FIAP’s six action areas, including inclusive growth, gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls. It also aligns with the environment and climate action agenda as women will work to increase the sustainability of their businesses and will be encouraged to adopt green and clean technologies.

Derouiche says the program aims to help women entrepreneurs address many obstacles, including climate change and water scarcity. “The adoption of new technologies and adherence to the principle of environmental responsibility will enhance the stability and profitability of SMEs. It will push women entrepreneurs to become pioneers in their field, contribute to research and bring about positive change in Tunisia and in Africa as a whole. The Ministry program, with technical assistance from Canada, will support them in doing this.

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