A new startup incubator – the 777 – has launched in the Tunisian city of Sousse, providing young entrepreneurs with a range of infrastructure, business advisory, mentoring and financial services in return for equity.
The 777 is the first incubator to launch in Sousse, with is the capital of the Sousse Governorate and located 140 kilometres south of the capital Tunis.
Opened last month, the incubator will screen applications from startups, integrate them into its programme to develop their businesses, and allow them to pitch to investors at demo days. Its business model is to take equity in incubated startups.
“Our goal with this project is, first, to let youth know the power of an idea well thought out. Second, we aim to raise awareness about the entrepreneurship mindset in this country and beyond in order to highlight the importance of startups and emphasise on what lasting impact startups have in the ecosystem,” Faten Aissi Zardi, chief operating officer (COO) at the 777, told Disrupt Africa.
The 777 team is currently selecting the startups that will take part in its first programme, with Zardi saying it had encountered a gap when it comes to startup support in Sousse.
“There are not any structures dedicated to support the startup ecosystem in Sousse, so we thought that it would be a great opportunity to create a hub where startups can find technical support, but also funding and soft skills training,” she said.
The 777 is concentrating on the Sahel region for now, but aims to extend its activity to Morocco, Algeria and Egypt in the future.
“The most challenging part was finding investors,” Zardi said. “Innovation hubs are a new thing in Tunisia and investors are not used to putting money into them. So convincing someone to put his or her money into innovation and not into real estate or a tangible thing is still the hard part of the job.”