On June 8, the TAYP board convened for its semi-annual meeting at American University in Washington DC. These meetings are an excellent opportunity to review accomplishments, activities, and milestones during the first half of the year, and plan for the remainder of 2015. While the board meeting last January set the stage for 2015, this meeting focused on the following key components: entrepreneurship and the establishment of a US-Tunisia mentorship program with a focused methodology; education; and export, setting t off new plans of action and potential for growth, with further
To kick off the meeting, the board welcomed two new additions to the team: Shelly Porges and Kris Balderston, both long-time supporters of Tunisia and with substantial backgrounds in policy and business development. This expansion signals a commitment by the TAYP core team and board to focus more specifically on the 4 E’s model by better utilizing its supporters’ expertise.
Following board introductions, the first order of business was a discussion about TAYP’s efforts to introduce educational programming. TAYP has recognized that for an entrepreneurial ecosystem to thrive in Tunisia, the educational system needs to instill the values of creativity, curiosity, and leadership. TAYP seeks to achieve this by convening major stakeholders and designing an action plan to help improve the quality of education for the next generation of Tunisian changers and doers. In addition, TAYP will continue to work on finding opportunities for highly qualified Tunisian students to study in the United States and bring their newfound skills back to Tunisia to continue to develop the country at this critical time.
Next, the board discussed the recent achievements of TAYP’s flagship program, the Handicraft Export project. Following a hugely successful pilot program and subsequent expansion, the TAYP team is ready to bring the program to scale. With over 500 jobs created and sustained and substantial revenue to artisans in over 17 governorates, the handicraft team is working to expand the project in the coming months. In May, Project Coordinator Anis Mnif attended the Annual World Fair Trade Week in Milan, where he entered into dialogues with potential key partners that will provide access to even more markets for Tunisian artisans in Europe and the United States. Also in May, Board Chairman Mohamed Malouche attended the Clinton Global Initiative in Morocco, where the Handicraft Program was selected as a top-ten commitment for the coming year. With the backing of various Tunisian and international partners, and widespread global attention, TAYP is taking the program to the next level.
Following the meeting, the board moved to Ambassador Faycal Gouiaa’s residence along with 30 TAYP members and friends. This was an opportunity for networking, celebrating TAYP’s achievements, and discussions about future programming to impact Tunisia in the months and years ahead.
Over food and drink, attendees heard from Chairman of the Board Mohamed Malouche and President Firas Ben Achour, which reiterated TAYP’s commitment to increasing economic activity and partnership between the United States and Tunisia. Ambassador Gouiaa echoed those sentiments, and highlighted his focus on the continued cultivation for US support at this critical moment in Tunisian history. This meeting was also an opportunity to recognize some of the most active TAYP members who ensure the continued success of the organization.
Ikbel Achour, TAYP’s VP of Development, was rewarded for her active role with the Chicgago Council on Global Affairs and for promoting Tunisia as a critical focus of the global community. In addition, Oualid Bellagha was recognized for being a key partner for TAYP’s strategic development and willingness to support a variety of projects.
As we move into the second half of 2015, TAYP’s board and members look forward to increasing to supporting the different projects’ ongoing growth and development, greater members and community engagement, and a stronger impact on the US-Tunisian economic relationship.