Strengthen Women-Led Organizations

WES provides training and support to partner organizations in Tunisia, enabling them to operate WES Centers for Women's Business Development using a cost-recovery business model. A team of trainers at each center are equipped to deliver curricula including leadership, entrepreneurship, social media, home-based business and e-commerce. By charging nominal fees for workshops, organizations increase their own sustainability and reach, while supporting women entrepreneurs in their communities.

Access to Training, Networks and Finance

Through WES centers, aspiring and established women entrepreneurs access affordable training, coaching and financial services enabling them to launch and grow businesses. WES graduates form networks committed to sharing resources, creating strategic alliances and advancing professional opportunities for women entrepreneurs.

Learn more on the WES website


WES provides training and business development support for women entrepreneurs from all backgrounds. Curricula are offered in basic, intermediate and advanced levels to best meet specific needs.

  • Entrepreneurship – A comprehensive and practical training that uses relevant case studies of Tunisian businesswomen to develop the business knowledge and skills required to start, manage and expand a business. Through the course, women develop a business plan to expand or launch a business.
  • Leadership – An intensive training that supports women to think about their dreams, shift traditional thought processes and assumptions, and articulate a vision for their future. Participants are encouraged to “think outside the box” and develop a plan for realizing their vision.
  • Social Media for Women Entrepreneurs – Participants learn technical skills and best practices for using Facebook and other social media platforms to develop marketing strategies to expand their businesses.
  • Financial Education – Specifically designed for women entrepreneurs in Tunisia, entrepreneurs gain the knowledge, skills, attitudes and confidence to adopt good money management practices and address the specific barriers that women may face.
  • Home-Based Business – Participants build skills specific to starting and managing a business from home including how to develop a sales and market strategy from home, find clients and balance family obligations.
  • E-Commerce – A cutting-edge training that prepares participants to establish an online presence for their business, and effectively use online platforms to sell products and services.

In addition to the core curricula listed above, each Center offers additional professional courses to meet the needs of entrepreneurs in their specific communities.

WES Participant in Tunisia

Tunisia is in a period of dramatic transition. The country’s 2011 revolution was largely fueled by frustration over high unemployment and demand for political, economic and social reform. As Tunisians celebrate their recent democratic political transition, many are focused on building better lives for themselves and their communities – finding suitable jobs, putting food on the table, providing a good education for their children and securing a peaceful society.

In Tunisia, women represent 60% of all university students and graduate at higher rates than their male counterparts. Yet in 2012, only one in four women was active in the national labor market. Given their higher educational attainment, the relatively low numbers of women in the formal economy represents a significant loss for Tunisia.

Entrepreneurship is increasingly recognized as an important factor for economic growth and development across the globe. In the MENA region, where female labor force participation rates are among the lowest, entrepreneurship can offer opportunities for women to actively participate in the economy. Tunisia has one of the highest rates of women entrepreneurs in MENA with sole ownership of their firms (55%) and Tunisian women-owned compa­nies had the highest recruitment rates in the region, employing an average of 19 workers per firm, according to a 2012 study. Despite these signs of success, Tunisian businesswomen cite a number of barriers, in addition to the same challenges their male peers encounter. A general culture that was seen as resistant to women’s entrepreneurship was cited in a recent survey of Tunisian women entrepreneurs as the number one barrier to reaching their full potential. Family obligations and limited business networks were other obstacles often mentioned by survey respondents.

At 39%, Tunisia is the second most active country in Africa in terms of internet penetration. About one-third of the population is active on Facebook (and 42% of the Facebook users are women). However, e-commerce, an important tool for many entrepreneurs, remains very limited due to conversion restrictions on the Tunisian Dinar.

With the support of the US-Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI), IIE’s Center for Women’s Leadership Initiatives designed the WES program to support women's entrepreneurship and build the capacity of civil society to secure equal rights and opportunities for women.

© 2016 Institute of International Education, Inc. All rights reserved.