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The Economic system in the MENA region and its possible contribution to the Arab Spring. Mohamed Bouazizi – Tunisian street vendor. From Mohamed Bouazizi .... …. to Economics in North Africa. Before the Spring.

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The Economicsystem in the MENA regionanditspossiblecontributiontotheArab Spring

before the spring
Beforethe Spring
  • Status quo (2010):- Economic elites obtain most of privatized assets thanks to political connections - Firms are not treated uniformly  Corruption & tax rates - Lack of jobs in private sector High unemployment rates for young people- Old businessmen Youth in majority- Spike in global foodprices
before the spring1
Beforethe Spring

Political concerns about voice/human rights


Lack of jobs and crony capitalism


Catalyst: Mohamed Bouazizi


entrepreneurs as drivers of change1
Entrepreneursas Drivers of Change
  • Entrepreneurs don’t participate in the protests in an open and collective manner
  • ONLY: labor unions, youth movements, leftish/islamist movements, bloggers
  • Reasons for not participating: 1. Existing business organizations are controlled by incumbents and lack independence from the regimes in place2. Associations for SMEs simply do not exist 3. Are sensitive to retaliation by the regimes in place can deprive them of their livelihood
entrepreneurs as drivers of change2
Entrepreneursas Drivers of Change
  • Only way to participate in protests as civilians

Other ways of bringing political changes?

 SMEs as contributor to political change

entrepreneurs as drivers of change3
Entrepreneursas Drivers of Change
  • Promoting social mobility by expanding middle class
  • Adding fresh blood to entrepreneur elites
  • Decentralize economic power away from big entrepreneurs supporting the regime
  • Advocate for institutional reforms that weaken the economics elite’s capacitiy to capture the benefits of economic reforms
  • Implementing more transparent/democratic procedures within business associations can spill over into civil society/political sector
linkage between entrepreneurship and other drivers of change1
LinkagebetweenEntrepreneurshipandother Drivers of Change
  • LinkedwithissueofMIGRATION
  • Can influenceentrepreneurshipby:- BRAIN DRAIN: Deprive emigrant countries of their more entrepreneurial/creative individuals- CIRCULAR MIGRATION: Co-development, mainly via monetary remittancestend to finance only consumption, housing improvement, health care etc. don’t foster entrepreneurship- BRAIN CIRCULATION: Mobility of competence/skills through network of knowledge/innovation
linkage between entrepreneurship and other drivers of change2
LinkagebetweenEntrepreneurshipandother Drivers of Change
  • Morocco, Egypt, Lebanon:- very significant flows of monetary remittances - but seldom corridor of goods, information, knowledge, services etc





linkage between entrepreneurship and other drivers of change3
LinkagebetweenEntrepreneurshipandother Drivers of Change
  • Small attemptsforBRAIN CIRCULATION model: offers new business opportunities and changes way businesses are managed opportunity to develop a new segment of middle-class professionals/entrepreneurs
Final Remarks: Towards more comprehensive EU, US, and Transatlantic Perspectives on Entrepreneurship in North Africa
final remarks
Final Remarks

What we have seen so far: Small/very small (often individual/family) companies are a potential driver for:ECONOMIC, SOCIAL, POLITICAL CHANGE

final remarks1
Final Remarks

What have the EU/USA done so far to

promote North African entrepreneurships and


final remarks2
Final Remarks


  • Seldom support of small entrepreneurs/microentrepreneurs
  • Rarely considered, consulted or even informed EU/USA have to start to include them in their bilateral negotiations with governments Inclusion of all actors, e.g. traditional/small farmers, consumer associations, representatives of civil society (including religiously ones)
final remarks3
Final Remarks


  • Troubled relationship between business & democratization
  • Business representatives are seldom invited to civil society meetings, are not considered capable of organizing themselves include the business sector in democracy process
final remarks4
Final Remarks


  • Euro-Mediterranean relations mainly focus on governments/big policy designs  exclusion of SMEs


  • Support initiatives that promote SMEs
  • Measures directly targeting SMEs
  • Improve economic/legal institutions/infrastructures that benefit micro/small businesses
final remarks5
Final Remarks


  • Horizontal policy reform EU/USA should consider offering a consistent package of incentives, including financial assistance & better access to THEIR markets for NA goods, services, workers
final remarks6
Final Remarks

Possibilities of economic change through:- Young population  pave the way for more individualistic approaches- Migration  building of entrepreneurial bridges- Effective economic integration with EU/USA process of political/economic liberalization

final remarks7
Final Remarks

Key objectives for the future: