Ambassador Rubinstein’s Remarks at Souk At-Tanmia Launch Ceremony

As prepared for delivery

 Ambassador Remarks at Souk At-Tanmia Launch Ceremony

Good morning everyone, I am delighted to be here to participate in this very special occasion.  I want to take a moment to thank Minister of Employment and Vocational Training Imed Hammami, our partners who participated in this project, and all of you for taking the time to join us in this ceremony.

I want to acknowledge in particular the seventeen partners of this program and their tireless devotion to providing financial and technical support to improve economic opportunity in Tunisia “the Green”.  I would like to offer my special thanks and appreciation to the African Development Bank for its extraordinary efforts in making the Souk At-Tanmia project a success.  Tunisia, rightly, has many friends.  The United States is proud to be one of those friends and a partner of this initiative.

I commend Tunisia’s progress towards its development goals in the face of the country’s challenges. Tunisia continues to serve as a positive example by prioritizing political compromise and good governance.  It will be important to continue to face these challenges by improving economic performance and reducing barriers to investment.  Doing so raises the competitiveness not only of Tunisians and Tunisian businesses, but of the nation as a whole. Economic improvements will in turn lead to inclusive growth and enhanced security.

It is noteworthy that by the end of the third edition of Souk At-Tanmia, the project will have helped create more than 270 businesses and about 2300 jobs throughout the 24 Tunisian governorates,while placing particular emphasis on underserved areas and supporting disadvantaged groups such as women and youth.

Entrepreneurship is a powerful tool for addressing social challenges in Tunisia.  And when paired with good economic and fiscal policies, it becomes a powerful tool for creating jobs as well.  Through public private partnership programs like Souk At-Tanmia,our two governments can work together with the private sector and civil society organizations to identify and support job creation programs.  These programs should be aimed at reducing regional and social disparities, at tapping into the entrepreneurial spirit, and enabling young leaders to find solutions to some of the most pressing problems in their communities, thereby spurring economic innovation and inclusive growth.

In addition, a special focus should be directed at the important role that the education sector can play in promoting entrepreneurship, combined with intelligent economic and fiscal policy.

This project is one of the many U.S. and Tunisian partnerships that aim to increase economic opportunity and inclusive growth.  The message that we are sending here today is that we strongly believe in the enthusiasm, passion, and creativity of young Tunisian entrepreneurs, who will overcome the obstacles that the country faces and lead the way towards a brighter future.

In closing, I would like to again offer my special thanks and appreciation to the African Development Bank team.I’d also like to encourage potential entrepreneurs to participate in this program to benefit themselves, their work, and their country.As the American inventor Thomas Edison said, “genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.”  I know Tunisians are willing to work hard, and we will stand by you.

I wish to you all a great success in working to achieve your project goals and launching your businesses.

Thank you very much.