On October 18-19 we hosted our Global Conference in Tunis, Tunisia. Over 200 participants from Tunisia and around the world came together to be inspired by successful entrepreneurs and industry leaders who shared their journeys and talked about practical ways to innovate your way into the future. John Kuruvilla, serial entrepreneur and Founder of Kalpnik talked about the importance of “scaling fast or failing fast.” In all of his endeavors he said data is what drove insights and insights is what drove growth. The focus on customer feedback was a theme he brought up both in his keynote and his fireside chat which focused on how early stage companies can scale their businesses. Riccardo Illy, grandson of the founder of Illy Café talked about how as a third generation business person in a family owned business he tries to innovate and focus his company in the increasingly crowded coffee market. Jozef Wallis, 9 time entrepreneur and founder of UK company, Booxscale, encouraged the entrepreneurs in the audience to “move fast and break things.” He reiterated the importance of using data as the driver for growth. Monica Kang, Founder of InnovationBox shared her story of going from being a non-proliferation expert the United Nations to starting her own company to help companies incorporate creativity into their everyday workplace. She walked the audience through a few exercises modeling how this could be done and encouraged the audience to use her Spark Cards to start a conversation in a different way. Sara Hand compared her work as an ecosystem builder in Florida to the Tunisian market and encouraged other ecosystem builders to collaborate and help entrepreneurs connect because you never know where the best resources will come from. CEED mentors participated on the panels of our conference first time by talking about both their work mentoring other entrepreneurs through CEED but also how they came to care about supporting entrepreneurs as successful entrepreneurs themselves. Robin Zimbakov, Samir Ben Benmakhlouf, and Bostjan Bregar spoke about their experience scaling companies, mentoring early stage startups and taking their work global. Raising Capital for Growth was also discussed at the conference with esteemed guests from Tunisia, the U.S and the UK. We had an opportunity to hear local perspective from two entrepreneurs Anis Sahbani, and Amira Chaniour and broader emerging market perspective from investors Hubertus van der Vaart, SEAF, Khaled Ben Jilani and Jozef Wallis and his experience as an entrepreneur and investor in UK who talked about the role of strategic outside capital and how it can help scale a high potential company.
The final panel of the event was entitled How to Succeed as a Women Entrepreneur. The panel was moderated by CEED Director, Anne Park and speakers included successful entrepreneurs and leaders from Tunisia and the U.S who work in various sectors. Lamia Fourati, Chief Strategy Officer of One TECH Holding; Houbeb Ajmi, CEO at Université Centrale Privée; Douja Gharbi, CEO of Tunisian Pearl and DG International, Sara Hand, CEO of Spark Growth and Monica Kang, Founder of Innovators Box spoke about their experiences. The group discussed the importance of perseverance and pushing through obstacles both related to their gender and not. They also talked about the importance of having conviction from within but leveraging mentors who can help navigate challenging situations.
In addition to organizing panels focused on providing practical advice, CEED facilitate B2B meetings between entrepreneurs and potential partners throughout the conference to ensure that entrepreneurs had the opportunity to learn about opportunities in the local market and within the CEED network at large. This was one of CEED’s largest most successful events to date.
The key partners of the event were USAID, The European Union, Tunisie Telecom, CofiCab, and Konrad Adenauer Stiftung.