At South Mediterranean University, entrepreneurship is our legacy. This is why we strongly believe in educating future entrepreneurs rather than creating passive job seekers. From academic programs, to trainings and workshops, to conferences, all aspects of campus life are designed to complement student development and leadership skills enhancement.
Our university offers various services dedicated to helping students develop their entrepreneurial potential:
The Innovation Lab, a space entirely dedicated to creativity, problem solving, and experimentation that has for mission “to help all entrepreneurs find, test, and realize innovative ideas”. It serves both as a physical space where students can meet and discuss business ideas, but also as an incubator that helps turn business ideas into feasible and sustainable projects.
SMU’s close collaboration with its corporate network and its proximity to the rapidly changing business world, allows us to continuously adjust our program’s curriculum and extra activities in a way that keeps responding to the real Business world requirements. Our Career Center plays a crucial role in exposing students to entrepreneurial activity. Serving as a bridge to the professional world, it fosters partnerships within the corporate ecosphere to build a network of both local and multinational organizations. The center’s wide-ranging network is a unique opportunity for students and alumni to build relations with potential partners and/or attract investors for their new ventures.
To align with the university’s values, SMU established the tradition of “Entrepreneurs of the Future” (EoF), a freshman student competition. At the beginning of each academic year, students are given a theme and are asked to come up with an innovative business idea and to prepare a solid business plan. The competition takes the form of an ideation camp of three days: two days of coaching and one day for pitching ideas and selecting the winners.
Moreover, throughout their curriculum, students are presented with numerous opportunities to engage in one or more entrepreneurial experiences both locally or on an international scale. Babson College, our official institutional partner business school, welcomes several SMU students every year for the Babson Summer School Entrepreneurship Program. In the academic year of 2017, our university was involved in two startup competitions:
In early March, SMU organized a startup competition to welcome young talents from around Tunisia. The purpose was to provide a truly unique adventure to aspiring entrepreneurs and help them launch their ventures. The winning project TalktoMe is a 3-in-1 mobile application that translates sign language to written/spoken words and the other way around and offers teaching/learning features. The goal from the application is to break communication barriers with the deaf and hard-of-hearing community, to offer an affordable and accessible tool to teach and learn Sign Language, and to improve career chances for the deaf as well as allow access to new job opportunities.
“The 2017 SMU Startup Competition was an excellent opportunity to present and develop our project idea in order to refine it” says Houssem Eddine Alayet, TalktoMe team leader. “I have learned a great deal from the workshops and the testimonials of SMU graduates who launched
their own startups […] I really hope that the Tunisian startup ecosystem will flourish even more with such brilliant talents and I invite the students to participate in such competitions” he added.
Earlier in the month of February, a group of SMU students had participated in the first edition of Tunisia’s Open Startup Competition. This project resulted from the participation of Tunisian institutions to the one-week immersion in the Columbia University entrepreneurship ecosystem in April 2015. Its objective was to pursue this action through the participation of a Tunisian Team to the Start-up Columbia festival that took place in New York City in April 2017. It is the first competition, including those of main higher education providers in Tunisia, to offer a unique opportunity to develop synergies, share best practices, and increase long-term collaboration with Columbia engineering and business schools.
The project included seventeen higher education institutions from the fields of engineering and business as well as from the private and the public sectors. A total of 70 students were selected within institutions based on set of pre-established criteria. The finalists, among which the Chechia team – Chechia includes three SMU students – were later selected to participate in the yearly Columbia startup competition. The Chechia team presented their HIC Chair. The product is a Smart cushion adaptable to all chairs. This cushion trains people who spend long periods sitting to improve their postures and therefore avoid back pain pathologies.
In addition to organizing events and encouraging our students to join startup competitions, SMU believes in giving back to the community and thus promotes social entrepreneurship values through various student life clubs and activities. A few years ago, Enactus MSB launched TuniBee, a social entrepreneurship project that combines both economy sharing and IoT (Internet of Things). The project aims to support beekeepers by providing them with the financial means to increase their productivity. This concept is based on an economy sharing model where consumers of honey sponsor one or more beehives in the form of a contract over 3 years. As a result, they finance the beekeeper’s hives and share the various risks associated with his/her activity. The second component of the project is the introduction of a new technology initiated by IRIS Technologies. Beehives are equipped with a chip that allows to send real time information on production progress.
SMU also develops partnerships with external incubators such as Souk Attanmia and the Founder Institute as well as funds such as TAEF (Tunisian American Enterprise Fund) to help students and young talents nationwide prepare for the Tunisian entrepreneurial ecosystem. The university hosts events and provides the facilities needed for coaching sessions, presentations, guest lectures, and all other related activities for many of these organizations.
SMU also takes pride in its alumni community of which many have decided to take on the path of entrepreneurship and have successfully done so. To name a few of their projects:
- E-taxi, the first and only E-Hailing service in Tunisia
- Evey, the first Tunisian mobile app for real-time polling and voting
- Barka Store, a social business that encourages Tunisian handcraft art
- Sushiwan, the first Japanese restaurant and catering service to offer sushi-go-round
- Tunibee, a social beehive keeping project
- Vynd, a mobile application that connects you to shops and services of proximity