Professor Muhammad Yunus, 2006 Nobel Peace Laureate, pioneer of microcredit and co-founder of the Yunus Social Business (YSB) visited Tunisia this month to review progress on social business initiatives in Africa following his participation in the 2013 National Conference on Social Business and to launch the AfDB Holistic Social Business Movement (HSBM) Programme.
“In one year we have come a long way and Tunisia is taking concrete steps in the adoption of social business. It will soon be a model for African countries and I am very happy,” he said.
“Today HSBM Programme is well advanced in Tunisia, an indication of the appetite that exists for social business among Tunisians,” said Aly Abou-Sabaa, AfDB Vice President for Agriculture, Water, Human Development, Governance and Natural Resources. The HSBM programme has established a steering committee composed of representatives from government, private sector, civil society and service providers, created an incubator and launched the first Social Business Accelerator in Tunisia called “iBDA“.
Following the call for proposals for iBDA, launched on 25 March 2014, more than 2,300 applications arrived from different parts of Tunisia. iBDA is an initiative that offers potential social business entrepreneurs the opportunity to benefit from an accelerated training of two months, followed by funding from 100,000 to 600,000 dinars per project and personalized coaching for finally selected projects.
The selection criteria for iBDA projects include social impact, the strength of the business plan, whether the project is replicable and the capacity of the entrepreneur. Forty-two candidates were shortlisted based on these criteria and invited to an interview. Among those, 11 of the most promising entrepreneurs were selected for training and coaching which started on 5 May 2014.
“The social transition in Tunisia is an opportune time to open the door to creativity, to become an actor in the community and build a country on new foundations,” said Yunus.
The African Development Bank Ten-Year Strategy (2013-2022) and its Human Capital Strategy (now in the final stages of development), present social business as a new approach that aim to promote job creation, private sector development, social innovation and inclusive growth. The pilot program started in Tunisia and Uganda will also be extended to Togo, with funding to be explored.