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A more entrepreneurial drive in North Africa and the Middle East

What do eight North-African and Middle Eastern countries have in common? All are committed to developing the entrepreneurial skills of young people, the entrepreneurship potential of women and the skills base of small and medium enterprises. This is one finding emerging from the assessment of the implementation of the Small Business Act presented at a meeting of the Working Group on SME and Entrepreneurship Policy held on 10-11 July 2018 in Tunis as part of OECD-MENA Competitiveness programme.

The meeting closed an assessment exercise carried out by the ETF, OECD and the European Commission involving focus groups from the countries of the region in the context of the Euro-Med Industrial Policy dialogue.

The main recommendations resulting from the assessment are a call to all countries to pay particular attention to entrepreneurship as a key competence, which is seen as vital to improving young people’s employability and flexibility in the labour market. While policy momentum is developing on women’s entrepreneurship, the assessment underlines that education, employment and economic policies need to be joined up for better impact. Finally, the development of vocational training needs to be boosted in all counties particularly in sectors with export potential.

The assessment involved Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine and Tunisia.

I congratulate all countries for their significant steps forward in policy development”, said Cesare Onestini, ETF Director. “A robust policy framework is key to promote youth employability and a competitive economy where women have an important role. Now more needs to be done on the implementation of the policies through partnerships between education, business and civic interest groups.”

The report of the assessment, “SME and entrepreneurship development in the Mediterranean Middle East and North Africa” will be published in English, French and Arabic on the ETF and OECD websites in September.