‘Love money’ for Tunisia

Published on 21/03/2019

The #ESILangel Douja Gharbi does her part to support the entrepreneurs in her country

“The term 'Business Angel' is not very well known in Tunisia,” reveals Douja Gharbi. This is something that is starting to change, since the Early Stage Investing Launchpad was officially launched in Tunisia last Tuesday March 12.

“I think there is big potential because there are many entrepreneurs and also the Tunisian diaspora around the world, that are able to become business angels," says Douja Gharbi, #ESILangel for Tunisia.

Douja is a serial entrepreneur; she has launched many companies in Tunisia, and also helped and mentored many other entrepreneurs to grow their own businesses. "Entrepreneurs need 'smart finance'. This means that they need money, of course, but also ideas and guidance to reach the market," says the #ESILangel.

In the last few years, Douja decided to go a step further and she also began investing money.

“To be frank, I am a very novice Business Angel,” she laughs, and claims that “this is the case of all Tunisian Business Angels.” Douja started investing in some family businesses and began to support financially some entrepreneurs she was mentoring. She defines her contribution like “love money” more than a “structured investment.”

“I started investing five years ago. I’m a counsellor and mentor of many entrepreneurs in Tunisia and abroad, but I’m still not doing it very regularly,″ she says.

The mission of Douja is none other than to support the entrepreneurs of her country. “I would like to promote business angel investment and become a professional business angel myself. I believe that it’s one of the most valuable solutions to boost entrepreneurship in Tunisia. The traditional banks showed their limits when it comes to financing early stage investment. A business angel can be at the same time a counsellor and a mentor to help entrepreneurs grow faster and to make their businesses more sustainable. Sometimes this is more important than money itself,” she explains.

Tunisia urgently needs early stage investment to boost start-ups and SMEs, and this is something to worry about, this is what Douja wants to change, and this is what the Early Stage Investment Launchpad initiative was created for. The ESIL launch event in Tunisia last week gathered 40 participants, among them the former Minister of Finance and Business Angel Jaloul Ayed, Slim Moalla (EVOLA Holding, Tunisia), Fathi Trigui and Antoine Deléron (RedStart, France) and Gilles Le Cocguen (Head Euroquity- Bpifrance).

An examination of the Tunisian early stage investment ecosystem in comparison with Europe, the evolution of Tunisian laws and incentives to introduce business angels and crowdfunding platforms and the role of incubators and accelerators were some of the topics discussed at the conference. In addition, the importance of cross-border investment and the role of the diaspora business angels in supporting Tunisian entrepreneurs were brought to the table. At the end, participants agreed that there is a need to build the capacity of business angels and crowdfunders in Tunisia, and organize more events for networking purposes.


Welcome speech by Douja Gharbi and introduction to the Early Stage Investment Launchpad

The ESIL trainer M. Patrick Van Roey shared his experience investing in Belgium

Early stage Investment in Tunisia by Mr. Jaloul Ayed

Testimonial Business Angel, Mr. Slim Moalla, (EVOLA Holding - Tunisia)

The ESIL launch event in Tunisia last week gathered 40 participants

Acceleration and Financing by the Business Angel of the Diaspora- by Mr. Antoine Deléron (RedStart - France)

Gilles LE COCGUEN (Head Euroquity- Bpifrance), about the Digital Services ESIL is offering