Columbia’s OpenStartUp Boosts Tunisia’s Entrepreneurial Ecosystem

The Deputy Chief of Mission Benjamin Moeling and PAO Stacy Barrios joined the Minister of Higher Education and representatives from Columbia University, BIAT bank, Africinvest and 17 Tunisian universities for the closing ceremony of the OpenStartUp Tunisia entrepreneurship mentoring program and competition.

Sponsored by a university linkage grant from the Embassy, the program was designed by a group of Tunisian academics and education officials who traveled to Columbia’s School of Engineering to experience their host’s method of incorporating entrepreneurship into teaching and learning.

The Tunisians returned with a plan to develop a similar entrepreneurial ecosystem in Tunisia, gathering 17 public and private business and engineering schools for a semester-long mentoring program and pitch competition for mixed teams of business and engineering students.

The Tunisian private sector contributed time and funds to mentor the students and support the project along with faculty from Columbia.

In his remarks during the closing ceremony, DCM Moeling encouraged youth to continue focusing their energy and creativity to support Tunisia’s development. The winning team was announced, and will travel to New York in the spring to participate in Columbia’s international pitch competition and compete for investment funds.

The project resulted in extensive collaboration between local public and private universities, the Tunisian government, and the private sector, and is already leading to additional partnerships.