Good evening everyone. I am delighted to participate in Enactus’s first global summit, celebrating the accomplishments of entrepreneurs from 27 countries. I would like to thank Minister of Education and Interim Minister of Higher Education, Hatem Ben Salem, Minister of Tourism and Interim Minister of Transport, René Trabelsi, Enactus Global CEO Rachael Jarosh, and Enactus Tunisia President Khaoula Khedimy Boussama. I would also like to thank the Tunisian American Friendship Association for putting together this fantastic event. And finally, I extend a warm welcome to the Enactus alumni from all over the world.
The United States has long been a strong supporter of entrepreneurship – in Tunisia and worldwide. The United States was built by the hard work, spirit, and creativity of entrepreneurs – from the early pioneers to present-day innovators in Silicon Valley. Milton Hershey. Walt Disney. Steve Jobs. Marjorie Merriweather Post. It’s a history we are very proud of, and we are delighted to share this appreciation for entrepreneurship with Enactus alumni, and entrepreneurs all over the world.
The relationship between the U.S. Embassy in Tunis and Enactus goes back to 2008 when Enactus was known as the Students in Free Enterprise. We supported the organization’s Entrepreneurship and Small Business Initiative, which promoted social responsibility in Tunisian leaders and entrepreneurs who worked to create a better, more sustainable world through the positive power of business. The U.S. Embassy is proud to continue supporting entrepreneurship programs today, including two projects with the African Development Bank and Education for Employment.
In total, the United States has provided Tunisia with $1.8 billion in foreign assistance since 2011 to strengthen the country’s economy and security and support Tunisia’s democracy. We are making this investment because we believe in Tunisia’s future. Within the realm of economic growth, the U.S. Embassy is particularly focused on youth employment. We recognize that an inclusive workforce – to include individual women, youth, and citizens from every region of the country – is essential for Tunisia to thrive. And we believe that entrepreneurs are essential to the economic success of Tunisia.
This diversity of entrepreneurship is not only important to Tunisia. As individuals, you represent 27 different nationalities. Your collective power is evidenced by the ministers, ambassadors, business leaders, and media that are attending this event tonight. But your work has just begun. Addressing global challenges, such as poverty, lack of opportunity, and extremism will take dedication, ambition, and resourcefulness. And Enactus Tunisia has embodied that spirit through a range of innovative projects that create social good. I am particularly struck by the Hand’ Art project in Béni Khaled and Wardanin, in which rural women turn textile waste into retail art.
Entrepreneurship is, at its essence, the pursuit of individual dreams, and what we’ve seen throughout American history, and today here in Tunisia, is the impact of all of your efforts on economic growth, social integration, and the environment. Thank you.