Free Education Program Brings Hope to Tunisia's Unemployed
This program fosters entrepreneurial spirit, offers tools to support fledgling businesses, for free.
For the past three years, the foundation has been working with the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), USAID, the Italian Development Cooperation, and other partners on a job-creation project, called “Mashrou3i,” (which in Arabic means, “my project”) that fosters a spirit of entrepreneurialism and offers tools that can support fledgling business owners.
Last week, the program launched into its second phase, a five-year mission to create some 6,000 jobs and reach more than 25,000 aspiring and existing entrepreneurs in Tunisia.
“Every job created out of this initiative makes a positive impact on the individual’s life and helps support the local community,” said Markus Schwertel, Lead Government Relations Central and Eastern Europe, Middle East, and Africa at HP. “It truly empowers people to be successful.”
Image courtesy of HP
In addition to mentoring and technical skills training, participants also have access to HP LIFE, a free, online program of the HP Foundation, which features 27 interactive modules covering business and IT skills training in seven languages, including Arabic and French. It has been used by more than 640,000 people in over 200 countries and territories.
During the first phase of the project, about 1,250 jobs and 160 startup companies were created. In addition, more than 12,000 Tunisians took online courses through HP LIFE and nearly 1,400 aspiring entrepreneurs—more than half of whom were women—were coached to help develop, improve, or finalize business plans.
The new influx of support, which includes a contribution of nearly $1 million cash and in-kind technology from HP and the HP Foundation, will help to expand reach, add staff, and grow the project geographically into farther-flung governorates in Tunisia. It will also support the ongoing development of HP LIFE, where aspiring entrepreneurs can learn. Everything from nuts-and-bolts online classes in finance and sales forecasting to social media marketing and presentation skills will be free.
“The Mashrou3i project is a scalable social innovation model with proven results,” said Jihed Jahdour, Managing Director, Tunisia, at HP. “There is an urgent need for innovative solutions that provide access to quality education and enable economic opportunity for everyone everywhere, wherever they are in the world. The second phase of the project signals the continuation of our successful partnership to foster employment opportunities for young men and women in Tunisia.”
HP, as a brand with a deep history in the tech education sector is uniquely positioned to deploy its HP LIFE programming and technology into a region where there’s nearly immediate results.
“This has big implications for the future of learning all over the world, as technology continues to disrupt the existing models of education in the so called developed world as well,” HP’s Schwertel said.
“Instead of discussing how many and what kind of devices are needed in the classrooms, the question is, ‘What are the learning outcomes we want to achieve?’” he said. “Engaging learning content for personalized learning like HP LIFE, coupled with technology, enables emerging market countries to leapfrog and to get access to top content of the same quality as anywhere else in the world.”