Note: This article was originally published in the Arab Expatriate Exchange in the Summer 2015 Volume 13 edition, the International Organization for Migration’s (IOM) quarterly publication.
The Tunisian American Young Professionals (TAYP) is a non-profit, non-political, professional organization that represents over 1,000 Tunisian-American professionals in the United States. TAYP’s creation was inspired by the January 2011 events, led by the youth of Tunisia, to transition the country into a real democratic state. TAYP was born with the belief that economic prosperity is a key ingredient to ensure the successful transition to a new Tunisia.
TAYP aims at increasing the effectiveness of economic and investment flows between the US and Tunisia, and creating a networking platform for Tunisians who live (or lived) in the United States to help each other professionally.
Through its role as facilitator and advisor between pools of funding, Tunisian entrepreneurs, and US investors, TAYP has and continues to:
(1) Encourage US investors to consider Tunisia through presentations and roundtables at chambers of commerce, think tanks, and professional associations
(2) Condition the environment for increased US interest in Tunisia, with US agencies, Congress, and the Executive Branch
(3) Raise the awareness of Tunisia’s entrepreneurs regarding partnerships with US investors and agencies
(4) Support young entrepreneurs in developing their businesses through mentoring, technical and financial support
Through its 4 E’s model (Education, Entrepreneurship, Exchange, Export), TAYP promotes the US economic value proposition in Tunisia and leverages its natural differentiators.
Among the many projects that TAYP initiated is the Handicraft Export Program, originally sponsored by US Embassy in Tunis, which has been well received by U.S. consumers and generated significant additional revenues for artisans, with back order volumes of over $500,000. Additionally, this program has maintained 300 jobs and created over 50 direct jobs, in addition to facilitating a significant economic impact in 17 regions in Tunisia.
TAYP is currently establishing a Handicraft Collection Center in Tunis to collect, package, and label products for export. Handicraft products will be sent to a fulfillment center in Memphis, Tennessee, which will manage large and small orders and ship the handicrafts more cost-efficiently. In addition, the artisans will continue to participate in handicraft fairs in Tunis and the United States to give them the opportunity to present products, develop economic ties, and strengthen their business acumen.
As TAYP continues to focus on its 4 E’s initiative, it will delve deeper into the current Tunisian export apparatus and create a cost-effective, long-term tool to solidify the future of the Tunisian handicraft sector.
TAYP efforts and projects were recognized by several organizations. The Handicraft Export project was highlighted at the Clinton Global Initiative’s Middle East and Africa meeting in Morocco and the World Fair Trade Organization Annual Conference in Milan, Italy in May, 2015.