On June 28, 2013 officials from Tunisia’s Ministry of Commerce, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Ministry of Industry, along with representatives from USAID, presented diplomas to 63 graduates of the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Counselor and Director Certificate Training Program. This program was developed and taught by the University of Texas-San Antonio (UTSA), and builds on over 30 years of experience with the SBDC model in the U.S. and its expansion abroad.
The three-module course began in May 2013 and was attended by representatives of a variety of Tunisia’s small business capacity building organizations, including the country’s Centres d’Affairs, local universities, Chambers of Commerce, and banking institutions, among others. The SBDC Certificate Training laid the foundation to establish four pilot SBDC Centers that will support Tunisian entrepreneurs and small business owners. The Centers will later be connected to the SBDC network in the Americas through the online trade platform SBDCGlobal.com, where Tunisian small business clients will be able to find international trade opportunities.
"We are very excited to be working with Tunisia on the critical path to creating their first four pilot SBDC Centers,” said Cliff Paredes, Director of the International Trade Center. “The work we are doing here will maximize economic impact and promote growth and trade opportunities, particularly among young entrepreneurs and small businesses."
Tunisia is the first country outside of the Americas to join a rapidly expanding group of over 15 countries – Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Panama, the Dominican Republic, Colombia, Peru, Belize, Jamaica, St. Lucia, Dominica, Barbados and Brazil – that are adopting the SBDC model to strengthen their small business sector.
The Tunisia SME Project is awarded under the Volunteers for Economic Growth Alliance (VEGA) Leader with Associate Award and managed by lead implementing organization the International Executive Service Corps (IESC) and sub implementing organization the University of Texas San Antonio (UTSA).