All the players and managers involved in the EBSOMED Mediterranean programme met in Brussels at the European Parliament to take stock of 5 years of work to promote the Mediterranean business ecosystem by stimulating investment and job creation in the region with a view to economic growth. Exclusive video report at the heart of exchanges between Europe and the Mediterranean countries.
EBSOMED (Enhancing Business Support Organisations) is a project co-funded by the European Union and coordinated by BUSINESSMED (Mediterranean Union of Business Confederations) as part of a consortium of six partners. More than thirty organisations from 26 countries are also affiliated to the project.
The ultimate objective of this 5-year project (2018-2023) was to promote the Mediterranean business ecosystem by stimulating investment and job creation in the region with a view to economic growth. This was done by building the capacity of business support organisations in the countries of the southern neighbourhood.
“The EBSOMED programme was conceived just after the revolution, because we realised that the organisations that were supposed to support businesses themselves needed training and support, explains Jihen BOUTIBA, Executive Director of EBSOMED and Secretary General of BUSINESSMED. We took chambers of commerce, employers’ organisations, investment and investment promotion agencies, especially in the southern Mediterranean regions, and worked on training and exchanges of best practice with European organisations – and vice versa – so that they themselves could provide services to small and medium-sized enterprises and start-ups“.
More specifically, EBSOMED aims to increase the overall management capacity of Business Support Organisations in the Euro-Mediterranean region by improving the services offered to SMEs.
The action has sought to empower Mediterranean private sector stakeholders by:
1/developing business links and networks between the Southern Neighbourhood, ESOs and EU counterparts.
2/assisting in the use of the financing services offered by Developement and Finance.
On the entrepreneurial level, EBSOMED has been designed to stimulate trade and investment flows by supporting the internationalisation of Euro-Mediterranean SMEs.
“EBSOMED has enabled us to structure CONECT properly and give it perspectives that we could never have had on our own, says Tarek CHERIF, President of CONECT (Confederation of Tunisian Citizen Enterprises) and President of the ANIMA association. It has been an accelerator and a source of inspiration for us. Modelling, inspiration, knowledge: it has been very useful at every level. We’re lucky to have this opportunity to be part of the programme and to experience it fully.”
EBSOMED has given a new dimension to regional integration through the establishment of a sustainable hub and the development of win-win business partnerships in the Euro-Mediterranean region with:
Employers’ confederations ;
Networks of chambers of commerce and industry ;
Economic development agencies ;
Support agencies for small and medium-sized enterprises ;
Organisations, Research Centres and Civil Society Support Networks (youth and women).
“I think the real treasure of the EBSOMED project is the BCD, the Business Country Desk, says Tamer Abdel REHIM, Managing Director of Nile Valley Engineering. It’s an excellent tool for networking the different entities in the Mediterranean. If this tool is maintained, it will go a long way towards improving the business environment in the Mediterranean region, developing the network and increasing opportunities“.
Through the members of these networks, the EBSOMED Consortium has brought together the majority of Business Support Organisations (BSOs) and Euro-Mediterranean and Arab Chambers of Commerce, thus ensuring the mobilisation of SMEs and BSOs in all the associated countries.
What are the objectives?
1) To build the capacity of intermediary organisations to provide improved business services and tools to their members and to trade and investment partners.
2) Define regional strategies and action plans with the European Commission for selected sectors with high potential for growth and job creation
3) Promote a stronger role in advocating the needs of BSO members in public-private dialogue and disseminating good practice to improve the international image of the Southern Neighbourhood countries.
4) Maximise business links through the establishment of regional coordination platforms to further underpin new partnerships between Northern and Southern Mediterranean SEOs.
5) Improve the institutional partnership between the European Union and the countries of the southern Mediterranean neighbourhood and strengthen south-south cooperation mechanisms.
6) To increase trade and stimulate investment in the Mediterranean region.
7) To ensure the sustainability of EU funding initiatives through close coordination and improved synergies with bilateral and regional cooperation programmes.
Many of the women, entrepreneurs, associations and organisations who have benefited from EBSOMED have been able to testify to the help the project has been able to provide.
“I think the first thing that EBSOMED has given us is the strength to adapt, says Soukeina BOURAOUI, President of CAWTAR (Centre for Arab Women’s Training and Research). When we want to do good for others and be useful, what one person or body can’t do alone, we do together. We encourage each other, we stand together and we learn from each other. And we’ve realised just how important networking and solidarity are, apart from digitalisation.“
What are the results?
700 business support organisations
3,000 women involved in organisations
800 B2B meetings
3,500 business opportunities networked
22 calls for tender awarded
31 new services created for trade unions and employers’ organisations
The final word goes to Jihen BOUTIBA, Executive Director of EBSOMED and Secretary General of BUSINESSMED, who sums up this EBSOMED project: “It’s the culmination of several years of dreaming of doing this, and I think it’s come to fruition today. In general, it’s organisations based in Europe that take the lead in managing this kind of project. Nevertheless, we will continue our cooperation and the chambers of commerce, employers’ associations and investment promotion agencies are not closing in the Mediterranean countries. In spite of everything, our cooperation will continue and our actions on the ground will continue. »