Ambassador’s Remarks at the Closing Ceremony of CEED Tunisia

Minister of Finance Ridha Chalghoum, CEED Tunisia president Hichem Elloumi, Wafa, Sonia, Zeineb, Wajdi, and especially the CEED participants and entrepreneurs here today from Gabes, Medenine, Tunis, and Tataouine, good morning.

I would like to thank you for being here today.  In just one year, this project has helped 100 entrepreneurs gain knowledge and coaching to launch and improve their businesses, find necessary capital and hire employees, and create good jobs.  Importantly, the incredible team of CEED Tunisia has ensured that citizens from all corners of Tunisia benefitted from this exceptional program.  These efforts have already led to the creation of 30 new businesses, as well as the expansion of many others.

I am so impressed with the stories I’ve heard about this group of entrepreneurs.  Take Walid, for example. His new consulting company has already created seven jobs.  Or Mabrouka.  Her architecture firm has already been contracted to renovate six schools, which has the added impact of improving the learning environment for children across Gabes.  Amel is another woman, who I believe is the only female carpenter in the entire region of Medenine.  You, and many like you, are the future of this great country, and I am so proud of the part we play helping you build that future for yourselves and for your compatriots.

I am proud that the Middle East Partnership Initiative, known as MEPI, supports organizations like CEED Tunisia that are working for the economic empowerment for everyone.  This project is just one of many that aims to boost inclusive economic growth here in Tunisia.  U.S. assistance focuses on strengthening the Tunisian business climate to create jobs, support business development, foster innovation, and encourage social enterprise.  Our programs are creating thousands of jobs and helping hundreds of small companies and startups around the country.

The United States will continue its strong support to Tunisia, but the relationship between our two countries is based on much more than just assistance.  We share a vision of an economically prosperous Tunisia, and, to that end, I want to congratulate you once more for the Startup Act that Parliament passed earlier this year.  The act will empower entrepreneurs to forge their own futures, and will create space for new businesses, new jobs, and new ideas to flourish.

Once again, I would like to congratulate all the beneficiaries of this project for seeking out new skills, and for all that you have achieved so far.  Your hard work, and the hard work of many more like you, is key to Tunisia’s future wealth and prosperity.  As you continue on your path, remember that you represent the future of Tunisia, and we look to you to rise even higher and show the world your true potential. Locally, regionally, and internationally.