Meeting with Tunisian Leaders and Entrepreneurs

by mdillard
Jan 20

On Monday we had a meeting scheduled with the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy (CSID). Mia and Nesi went to a morning meeting at the CSID while Jenny worked on her own project from the hotel since CSID’s focus was not related to her research. CSID was really helpful for finding contacts and gave Nesi a chance to talk to the people leading the organization. After that, we went to MEF to spend the rest of the day studying. We went to the city center to eat dinner at the Cafe Theatr, which is a famous cafe attached to the national theater building. It was especially good because it was easy to find vegan food there, a challenge in Tunis.

Tuesday was a busy day. CSID had arranged a meeting for Nesi with an academic and NGO leader who worked on the issue of secularization at a hotel lobby in the city center. After that interview, Nesi got notice from CSID that they set a meeting with a senior member of Ennahda, the main of Islamic political party in Tunisia, so he went to meet with her at the Tunisian parliament, The Assembly of People’s Representatives.

After a great meeting at the Parliament, Nesi joined Mia and Jenny at MEF, where we had photos taken and were in a short video about our stay at MEF. After lunch at a nearby place, Mia went to interview an NGO official working on promoting entrepreneurship in Tunisia. They talked about the barriers to entrepreneurship in Tunisia, specifically focusing on government overregulation and the lack of access to finance. He also discussed the benefits facing entrepreneurship, however, specifically the potential for entrepreneurs to compete effectively with Tunisia’s neighbors. Nesi and Jenny returned to MEF where Jenny worked on arranging interviews for the rest of the week while Nesi did transcription.

After work, we got coffee with people from MEF and talked about life in Tunis, learning Arabic, and other things. After getting takeaway dinner we returned to our hotel to finish up preparation for more interviews and Nesi packed for his flight back.

Wednesday we got an early start to the day and arrived at MEF. Jenny was not feeling well and spent the morning working from the hotel and had an interview in the afternoon with an NGO leader working on energy for in the region. We had lunch with people from MEF and Nesi left for his flight back to Istanbul. We spent the rest of the day working our projects.