Ambassador Blome’s Remarks at the Kick-off of Open Start-Up Tunisia Bootcamp

Good evening, everyone.  It is my pleasure to join you tonight to officially kick-off the OSTX National Competition, organized jointly by Open Start-Up Tunisia and Columbia University in collaboration with the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research.

I’d like to acknowledge our partners including Houda Ghozzi, founder of Open Start-up Tunisia, Dario Vasquez representing Columbia University and Youssef Ben Halima from the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research.  Thank you for championing entrepreneurship education in Tunisian universities and for fostering collaborations between American and Tunisian universities.

I’d also like to recognize our co-sponsors, the Drosos Foundation and Africinvest, and thanks all the coaches for devoting your time, energy, and skills to mentoring a new generation of Tunisian business leaders.

I‘m pleased to be here tonight because I firmly believe that fostering a strong entrepreneurial culture drives innovation and job creation, which are essential in charting a new, inclusive and sustainable economic path in Tunisia.  During my tenure as U.S. Ambassador, I have seen firsthand that Tunisia’s entrepreneurial potential is truly limitless.  Young budding entrepreneurs like you are a powerful force – and given the right support – young entrepreneurs will soon become one of Tunisia’s greatest assets.

As I travel throughout Tunisia and meet with young entrepreneurs, I have the opportunity to hear about their dreams and aspirations.  Though everyone has a unique story, most young entrepreneurs that I have met are excited by the opportunities that they see in forging their own economic future.  They are also very frank about the challenges they face as they try to maneuver within Tunisia’s complicated business environment.

That’s why the U.S. Embassy has partnered with Columbia University and OST since 2016 to invest in and grow Tunisia entrepreneurship ecosystem by mentoring young innovators like you.  We are also helping more than 15,000 small and medium business owners rebound after COVID-19 and reach new markets through USAID’s Tunisia JOBS program.

With the support that you will receive through the OSTX program, I am confident there is no obstacle that you cannot overcome.  It’s fantastic to see Tunisians and Americans coming together to open new opportunities for young, talented and ambitious entrepreneurs.  And my team and I will continue to partner with you to make entrepreneurship the driver of innovation and economic growth in communities across Tunisia.

Thank you everyone for your continued support of OST! Thank you for your commitment to Tunisia’s youth!