A winner creates decent jobs for women in Tunisia

25-year-old Samar Belkhala comes from the Tunisian coastal town of Teboulba in the Monastir Governorate. Teboulba is a small town traditionally characterized by fishing. To earn her pocket money, Samar often worked in the harbor during her semester breaks. Her job was to repair the used fishing nets together with other women. The repairing/recycling of the nets  used to be done per hand, sitting on the ground, without equipment and without any protection, neither from the cold of winter nor from the heat of the Tunisian summer sun.

In addition, the working conditions of the women are precarious and depend on the good will of the fishermen. Women’s wages are very low and there is no social security for informally employed women. They also have no access to health and pension insurance. Hence, their employment is very precarious.

The young Tunisian woman has an idea to address precisely these challenges. With her project GOZLEN, Samar wants to put women’s knowledge and skills to good use and improve working conditions for women in the traditionally male-dominated fishing sector. By recycling the nets, GOZLEN also contributes to waste reduction in the port. To achieve this, GOZLEN has signed cooperation agreements with 50 fishermen in the port of Teboulba.

Samar already had the idea for GOZLEN several years ago, but did not know where or how to start her project until she was able to secure expert guidance and funding for GOZLEN through the national entrepreneurship competition ” Machrou3ek ” (Your Project). But how did she get here?

Within the framework of the project “Qualification and Labor Market in Tunisia” (FORMAT), a joint convention for cooperation in the promotion of entrepreneurship was signed in the summer of 2022 by ten Tunisian ministries, as well as between the participating authorities, the state development bank “Banque Tunisienne de Solidarité” (BTS) and the GIZ. The convention laid the foundation for improved cooperation between the ministries in the field of entrepreneurship. It also provided a basis for ” Machrou3ek “.

The aim of the competition was to promote initiatives for the creation of innovative and decent jobs and to support companies in the (post-)start-up phase. A total of 250 participants received professional advice on the implementation and finalization of their project ideas, and 48 prize winners were awarded funding for their projects. After the award, in addition to the prize money, the projects were supported through a cooperation with BTS Bank, which finances these micro-enterprises with preferential loans.

Through this financing, Samar can implement her project idea: “With my financing commitment, I can now bring GOZLEN to life and create jobs in good working conditions for 25 women from my region and thus contribute to the economic integration of women in my region,” Samar excitingly states on February 22, 2023, when she presents GOZLEN as a good example of female entrepreneurship at the national entrepreneurship forum “Riyeda”, which is financed by FORMAT.

Contact Details

Name: Judith Guckenbiehl
Email: judith.guckenbiehl@giz.de
Posted in Gender Week Blog