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B@Labs: Tunisia’s First Startup Incubator

With the help of BIAT, Tunisia’s biggest financial group, B@Labs was born this year and will officially launch in September. This incubator seeks out young entrepreneurs who have the potential for innovation in promising sectors of the Tunisian economy.

Tunisia’s former minister of telecommunications, Noomane Fehri, turned to BIAT to encourage the private sector to get involved in building the local startup ecosystem. Located strategically in downtown Tunis, B@Labs is the country’s first startup incubator.

B@Labs’ Program Officer, Achref Mattar, shares the effect that the incubator has on the local startup ecosystem ahead of Challenge Cup Tunis.

What impact do you see the startup ecosystem having on the local economy?

Since the Tunisian revolution in 2011, we noticed the emergence of different organizations that helped to foster the startup ecosystem — like the co-working spaces, incubators, accelerators and competitions have sprung up all over Tunisia.

Actually, the startup ecosystem is changing the Tunisian landscape forever by challenging the economical and social status quo in Tunisia.

The impact that this ecosystem can have on the local economy is taking it to the next level by introducing new industries (i.e. blockchain, e-health, artificial intelligence) and disrupting the local economy by emerging new startups that can enter in a competition with the companies that already exist in the market and challenging the status quo.

By developing the startup ecosystem, B@Labs aims to help entrepreneurs launch startups that will disrupt the Tunisian economy by introducing new industries and technologies.

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How are you working with local government or other businesses in your region?

B@Labs believes that the best way to work with local government or other businesses in Tunisia is by connecting them to create win-win relationships.

On the other hand, since our incubator is financed by the biggest financial group in Tunisia, we try to build symbiotic relationships between our member startups and the financial group.

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If you were pitching your startup ecosystem, what would your 2-minute pitch include?

The startup ecosystem is introducing the new technologies and industries to the market, and thus this newborn ecosystem is disrupting the market and the Tunisian economy by developing the standard industries (i.e. agribusiness & mechatronics) and introducing brand new ones (e.g. fintech, e-health).

The number of the created startups is increasing every year and this increase is accompanied with the rise of the number of the accelerators, investors and competitions. We started having many success stories and Series A funding from national and international investors.

In addition, there are two law projects proposed to the Tunisian parliament that suggest a legal framework for the startups and the social enterprises.

Finally, Tunisian business schools (Institute of Business Studies, Tunis Higher Institute of Management, etc.) started launching masters degrees in entrepreneurship and social entrepreneurship. Universities other than business schools now teach a specific module of entrepreneurship in order to promote entrepreneurship among the Tunisian students.

Applications for Challenge Cup Tunis close July 16. Startups can apply through UNION here.