"Tunisia is in the top 10 emerging ecosystems in terms of available funding for startups and innovative SMEs. It is ranked first in the MENA region in terms of accessible talent."
In 2018, Tunisia was the first African country to sign a startup bill into law. Since then, Tunisia has officially recognized more than 650 startups, launched a €100 million fund of funds, and started the Flywheel program to support the ecosystem. Startup Tunisia offers grants of up to TND 200,000 ($63,000) to support the launch of new startup support programs. Air2 offers up to TND 200,000 ($63,000) to seed-stage startups to support them as they raise larger amounts.²
In 2022, KfW Development Bank subscribed €20 million to the ANAVA fund, which reached €60 million. ANAVA invested in two prominent VC funds in 2022: 216 Capital Fund I, a seed-stage fund that backs Tunisian tech-startups managed by 216 Capital Venture, and Badia Impact Squared, a late-stage fund investing in startups across MENA and managed by Silicon Badia. Badia Impact Squared led a $20 million round for Expensya, a Tunisian B2B Expense Management Platform, in 2021.
The Tunisia Support Project for Innovative Startups and SMEs received a $75 million loan from the World Bank, including $45 million to a fund of funds and $17 to the INNOVATECH Fund, which launched in February 2022. The government’s 2023–2025 Development Plan includes green projects worth €2.1 billion, including a green hydrogen project, and a national roadmap on green hydrogen was launched in March 2023. Notable deals in the ecosystem include grocery delivery company Appetito’s acquisition of last-mile delivery startup Lamma for $12.5 million in June 2022 and Edtech GOMYCODE’s $8 million Series A the same month.
Ecosystem by the Numbers
AI, Big Data & Analytics
The Tunisian national roadmap 2020–2023 includes investments in AI R&D, policy reforms to enable development in the area, and a focus on international cooperation. AI Hack Tunisia 2022, which took place in August, included a Machine Learning Challenge. German biotech company BioNTech acquired Tunisian AI startup InstaDeep for £562 million ($680 million) in January 2023.
Connect'Innov supports and promotes Life Sciences innovation, particularly in telehealth and biotech. The Tunisian Association for Health Promotion, in partnership with the World Health Organisation, hosted the Africa and Middle East Digital Health Conference and Exhibition in Tunisia in September 2022.
The UN SwitchMed Blue Economy initiative includes a project to make Tunisia’s aquaculture value chain more efficient and sustainable. SwitchMed II uses technology to improve fish farm economics and reduce environmental impact. The government has established two research institutes related to the ocean. In 2022, Tunisia released a report on the Blue Economy that includes initial guidelines for a national strategy. The World Bank is advising on institutional policies and in November 2022 announced a $13.5 million Blue Economy program to catalyze financing on the African coast.
Reasons to Move Your Startup to Tunisia
Positioned at the northern tip of Africa, Tunisia is at the heart of the Euro-Mediterranean and Middle East logistics chain and is an ideal export platform to several global growth markets. Tunisia is in the same time zone as many European countries, making it an ideal base for remote workers serving the continent.
All of Tunisia’s universities now offer courses in entrepreneurship. Student enterprise clubs, business-plan contests, and ideas competitions are driving interest in entrepreneurship among young people. The Tunisia Support Project for Innovative Startups and SMEs aims to build entrepreneurial skills, and there are more than 50 startup support organizations in the ecosystem.
The Startup Act makes startups exempt from corporate tax and allows them to apply for a label that provides the right to open accounts in foreign currency, enabling them to invest freely and without authorizations. It also allows startups to create subsidiaries abroad and take shareholdings in companies abroad. Tunisia has 15 cyberparks covering various specialties that work as incubators for ICT businesses.
Selected Startup Organizations
Startup Genome Members
Smart Capital, a management company approved by the Financial Markets Council, is in charge of the implementation of Startup Tunisia’s three components: Startup Act, the law and its incentives; Startup Invest, which oversees funding; and Startup Ecosystem, which backs supporting structures such as incubators, accelerators, and startup studios. Smart Capital operates under the authority of both the Ministry of Communication Technologies and Digital Transition and the Ministry of Economy, Finance and Support for Investment.
Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations (CDC)
Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations (CDC) is a public institution created in 2011. As the Private Equity arm of the government, it supports state policies in sustainable development goals and projects. The CDC distinguishes itself by its unique economic model, and is characterized by its mode of governance, its investment doctrine, and its risk management. It is a key player in the long-term economic and social development of Tunisia.
Key Ecosystem Players
News from the Ecosystem
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