The news teaches us every day a little more about the extent to which the Mediterranean is a region that is currently experiencing all the planetary challenges of tomorrow: droughts, medical deserts, floods, demographic explosion, urban constraints, mobility, energy efficiency… Facing These challenge, technological innovation is emerging as the cornerstone of the transformation of societies, their operation and use. Innovation is exactly the field in which, according to Global Entrepreneurship Monitor 2020/2021a large number of women entrepreneurs in the Middle East and North Africa region have a high rate of activity, sometimes outstripping their male counterparts in proportion.
Mediterranean women, a missing link in the envisaged solutions?
Because in Mediterranean Tech, women occupy an ever-increasing place, as evidenced by the figures of the Emerging Mediterranean Impact start-up acceleration program. This year, the participation of Maghreb women in the developing Mediterranean set a record with 221 applications received. As a reminder, they were 75 in 2020 and 95 in 2021.
However, female entrepreneurship remains lower than male entrepreneurship. But if the numbers are to be believed, the lights appear to be green for African women entrepreneurs. According to Roland Berger’s 2016 study, New Deal, New Game for Women in Africa, Africa has become in a few years the main continent for female entrepreneurship: 27% of women create a business there, a much higher rate than the international average of 6.2% of female entrepreneurs. But it is still not enough, and the road of obstacles continues to widen. These figures, although encouraging, hide a much more complex reality.
In Morocco, for example, just over 12% of women are entrepreneurs, while 34% want to start their own business according to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor 2021-2022, twice as many as in France. In Algeria, women entrepreneurs were estimated at 150,000 in 2018. Some boundaries still remain to be overcome so that women can finally fully occupy the central place they deserve.
Maghreb pieces with women’s influence
From e-health to the latest educational technologies, through agriculture, education or the emergence of enabling technologies able, for example, to bring informal workers out of precariousness, Mediterranean women take it upon themselves every day to positively influence their society.
In terms of e-health, let’s mention Akhili (Emerging Mediterranean 2022 Winner for the Tunisia category), which, led by Lamia Chouk, is developing a mobile and web application specialized in psychological consultation and care. Their application allows you to book and follow your session online. It guarantees patient anonymity. Or, AI Diagnosis Vision (Mediterranean Emerging Winner 2021 for the Tunisia category), run by Saoussen Ayari, is an online platform that uses artificial intelligence to analyze dentists’ X-rays, to provide them with an accurate diagnosis and a treatment plan.
In terms of climate and sustainable cities, Green Algeria (Emerging Mediterranean 2022 Laureate in Female Entrepreneurship), is a startup led by Kheira Benaissa that offers an installation for individuals that transforms their organic waste into combustible gas, contributing so in energy sovereignty. from his country. DAADOO VDP (Emerging Mediterranean 2020 winner for the category of Mauritania), created by Aminetou SY, combines the environmental impact thanks to the solution it offers against the burial of plastic waste, the social impact by working with a group of more than 1500 women and the economic impact by creating jobs.
In education, a Mediterranean Emerging 2021 finalist for the Tunisia category, Envast is a platform that provides accessible and quality education for Tunisian primary schools, thanks to intelligent gamified content tailored to the specific needs of students. It was created by Sabrine Ibrahimi.
In terms of agri-food, Kyto-Prod (Laureate in developing Mediterranean 2020 for the category Algeria), created by Olfa KILANI, offers a wide range of products and superfoods based on Chitosan, a natural molecule with multiple uses in food. cosmetics, textiles. , food and paramedical industry.
In terms of enabling technologies, Wadefa, created by Amira Khalifa Hussaien, is a Libyan app that connects job seekers and recruiters. Shédio (Emerging Mediterranean 2021 Laureate for Algeria), launched by Feriel Tounsi, offers a digital tourism service that combines 3D design, virtual visit, virtual and augmented reality with the goal of democratizing access to heritage.
The list of these parts is long. The promotion of all these successes is essential to create a virtuous effect and for it to spread to other women with entrepreneurial projects and the desire to develop an activity with a positive impact.
Because everywhere in the Maghreb, the main limit of female entrepreneurship is based on the barriers that women set for themselves. To combat this self-sabotage, everything must be done to give them the confidence and tools to succeed.
Female Empowerment: valuing the Female Entrepreneur and inspiring women
Whether in the Maghreb or anywhere in the world, it is the feeling of illegality and the lack of self-confidence that makes women less daring to start entrepreneurship, seek financing, etc.
Hence the need for states, incubators, donors, etc. to benefit from models of great success for women. The culture of transmission in the Maghreb among women in the Mediterranean has always existed. It is necessary to go further through “portrait” articles, sharing on social networks, podcasts, etc. For example, in July 2021, the Tunisian magazine Magazine companies ranked the top 100 women entrepreneurs from the Maghreb. This type of press article can clearly inspire female readers.
The power of the network should not be neglected either. Although women are less fond of Networking, however it is a lever. Hence the emergence of networks dedicated to women: the Euro-Mediterranean Women’s Foundation, the Association of Women Business Leaders in Morocco or Women in Business and ESPOD, Future Women in Tunisia or for Mauritania: the Mauritanian Council of Business Women and the Mauritanian Union of Entrepreneurial Women.
This online or physical network will allow women to share their experiences, share their failures, their successes, support each other, promote connections, etc. This is, for example, what Marwa Moula is looking for with ILEY COM. Her incubator, initially generalist, eventually became structured mainly around female entrepreneurship, especially in southern Tunisia. She explained at the recent Emerging Valley Summit: “ Our incubates are essentially women artisans who have families and children. They attend our evening online training sessions, share their ideas, dare to speak. They help each other. While our incubator was aimed at everyone, today I find myself surrounded by these creative and strong women. It is very motivating “.
Structuring and financing female entrepreneurship
Governments and investors have a role to play in the development of women’s entrepreneurship: legally, by providing a favorable framework through start-up aid, tax exemptions, the creation of incubators dedicated to women, etc., by promoting access to capital, communicating more about dedicated support programs. Raising the awareness of Europe-Med-Africa decision-makers to remove legal barriers for women’s access to entrepreneurship: this is the main reason why the topic of women’s entrepreneurship in the Mediterranean will once again be at the center of the 6th edition of the Emerging International Summit of the Valley, which will be held on November 29 at the Palais du Pharo, in Marseille. Through various highlights, including a session titled: “They’re Leading! Panorama of female entrepreneurship in Tunisia” carried out by the FAST program and the Expertise France group.
Founder of Emerging Mediterranean, Emerging Valley and author of Startup Lions.