U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker Announces Public-Private Partnership to Strengthen Entrepreneurship in Tunisia

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker today announced the launch of Regional Investments to Support Entrepreneurship (RISE), a public-private partnership aimed at promoting trade and investment between Tunisia and the United States, increasing market access, improving commercial rule of law and strengthening entrepreneurship. Secretary Pritzker announced the new platform during her keynote address at the Tunisian Investment and Entrepreneurship Conference in Tunis, Tunisia, where she is leading a delegation of U.S. government officials this week.

“The Obama Administration is committed to deepening the partnership between the United States and Tunisia,” said Secretary Pritzker. “Regional Investments to Support Entrepreneurship (RISE) is a new platform between the Commerce Department and a number of top U.S. companies and non-profits to promote more trade and investment, market access, and improve the business climate in Tunisia. As Tunisia works to transform its economy, RISE is a key example of how the public and private sector can work together to conduct commercial diplomacy in the 21st century.” 

The RISE partnership, between the Commerce Department and Microsoft, Hewlett Packard, Cisco, Pfizer, Medtronic, and the Partners for a New Beginning, is designed to promote trade and investment and market access between Tunisia and the United States. The private sector partners will increase training, mentoring, access to finance for entrepreneurs, support the development of incubators and accelerators for Tunisian entrepreneurs, and encourage economic reforms that improve the commercial environment.The RISE program announced today also supports President Obama’s recently released National Security Strategy, and its objective to work with Tunisia to further progress on building democratic institutions and strengthening its economy. 

The Commerce Department also announced today that 1776, a globally-focused incubator based in Washington, D.C., has agreed to offer guidance to incubators located in Tunisia and host Tunisian entrepreneurs in the United States. The Commerce Department also recently announced a new program called StartupGlobal in which incubators such as 1776 help American startups incorporate exports into their business models, as 95 percent of global customers live outside the borders of the United States. At the same time, the Tunisian-American Young Professionals, a group of successful Tunisian-American business leaders, will offer mentorship for the benefit of newly-minted CEOs in this country and provide possible access to finance for new ventures in Tunisia.

While in Tunis, Secretary Pritzker also led a roundtable with young Tunisian entrepreneurs to discuss how entrepreneurship can be a driving force for economic growth, peace, and stability around the world. As the Administration’s point person on entrepreneurship, Secretary Pritzker used the roundtable to learn more about the challenges and opportunities facing start-ups in the country.