It’s an honor to be here today for the Global Innovation through Science and Technology (also known as GIST) DEMO Day. The GIST initiative, a public private partnership led by the U.S. Department of State, has trained over 5,000 startups from emerging economies all around the world. It has connected millions of youth with entrepreneurship resources through oursocial media platforms and an online community that links innovators across135 GIST countries.
GIST is based on a simple idea. When young innovators have the skills and mentoring they need, they are more likely to take the risks that can tum their ideas into start-ups and ultimately successful businesses.
Science and technology innovation is integral to economic development and job creation in Tunisia. That’s why the U.S. government supports GIST,and other programs such as the Center for Entrepreneurial and Executive Development (CEED), which is an incubator for innovative ideas; Regional Investments to Support Entrepreneurship (RISE), which connects promising entrepreneurs with long-term mentors; and the Tunisian-American Enterprise Fund (TAEF), which provides small and medium enterprises the financing they need to scale up.
We see investment in training and mentoring young entrepreneurs as an investment in Tunisia’s future. But young entrepreneurs can’t succeed alone. They need a clear and simple investment code that invites investors, rather than discouraging them. They need an efficient bankruptcy law so that when a venture fails, they can quickly rebound and move on to their next project. They need a stable banking system that provides access to financing for small businesses with big ideas.We encourage the Tunisian government to move quickly to build the investment climate and legal environment needed to nourish innovation and entrepreneurship.
I’d like to recognize and thank VentureWell and their local partner Esprit for organizing this DEMO Day and the startup boot camp, which took placeover the last couple of days.
To each of the GIST entrepreneurs here, I want to say: You exemplify the talent, motivation, and ingenuity that we are all working to support, and it is you and your fellow entrepreneurs who, to a large degree, will determine Tunisia’s economic future.These young innovators will deliver products and services that impact their communities while employing hundreds of people. They are breaking down barriers to entrepreneurship, opening up opportunities for those following behind them– encouraging other young people to apply their talent to starting companies.
I wish you all great success with your ventures.