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The Tunisian Startup Act – What Does It Change?

As per Global Entrepreneurship Index 2018, based upon 14 parameters, Tunisia ranks 6th in MENA region and 40th worldwide on the health of the ecosystem. It is anticipated that this ecosystem could be the next game changer for the African continent. Fellow countries that rub shoulders with Tunisia are Botswana and South Africa. 

As a startup ecosystem, Tunisia enjoys much higher startup skills and risk capital than its counterparts in Africa.

Early last month, the much awaited Tunisian Startup Act was passed by the parliament.The law provided much room space for startups to flourish and put the country on the path of becoming a startup nation. The law documented the definitions and exemptions for startups with its emphasis on adopting technology in their core operations.

To help understand what this Act will change at the ground level, we had a detailed conversation with Houssem Eddine Touil, International Ecosystems Partnership Lead at Tunisian Startups.

Tunisian Startups, which is an active player in this space has launched an online crowdsourcing platform to measure the impact of startups and track the evolution of the ecosystem. It gathers input data about the startups business activities, like mainly: Turnovers, Number of Employees, Export, Online transactions, etc. As per their TSIndex, the snapshot of the ecosystem uncovers some promising numbers.

Q. In your opinion what will the ‘Startup Act’ change in the ecosystem?

In retrospect, the Startup Act isn’t the most liberal law out there so far, but we went from the logic of submitting and passing an MVL – Minimum Viable Law- improve it, iterate, abrogate and enact the necessary chapters is way better than waiting for longer, and changing a series of related conservative laws actually regulating the existing trade frameworks. Hacking systems is different from changing them.

Q. Who have been the significant contributors in getting the ‘Act’ enforced? 

Startup Act has been boosted by several actors of the ecosystem, including the Government, civil society, entrepreneurs, investors and other ecosystem enablers and representatives. It’s a part of a large strategy called ‘Startup Tunisia’, which aims to make of Tunisia a Startup Nation, under the umbrella of the Ministry of ICT.

Q. How will this ‘Act’ affect a startup? 

The things that the Act will ease are numerous, including the access to funding for startups, alleviate the administrative process, encouraging more people to believe in their dreams and launch their ventures, run and grow them on a global scale. Some of our financial regulations are conservative, making it a burden for entrepreneurs to grow their companies such as accessing new markets, even setting up psychological barriers for the wanna-bes.

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