JEUN’ESS: Promotion of Social and Solidarity Economy and Creation of Decent Jobs for Tunisian Youth

The JEUN’ESS project aims to create decent jobs for young people in disadvantaged areas and support the transition to the formal economy through the promotion of the social and solidarity economy (SSE). The project proposes an approach based on the promotion and strengthening of collective entrepreneurship through SSE organizations and mechanisms.


Unemployment among young graduates, particularly in interior regions, is the central problem of Tunisia after the revolution. In addition to the unemployment issue, there is a regional imbalance in terms of economic, social and environmental development.

The Tunisian Government and its partners regard the creation of decent jobs, in particular for young men and women in disadvantaged regions, as a central priority and engine of economic growth and development, as well as social peace.

However, economic difficulties and the slowing down of the production apparatus have considerably reduced the capacity of the private sector to create new employment opportunities. In this situation, the promotion of self-employment through individual or collective entrepreneurship has a potential to significantly reduce unemployment among young people, including in the informal economy.

It is in this context that the social and solidarity economy (SSE) has been identified by the Tunisian government and the social partners as a sector with significant potential for reducing social inequalities, promoting inclusion, creating jobs, wealth and a path to the formal economy.

Achievements :

Tunisia is the first country where the ILO began implementing SSE (Social and Solidarity Economy) programs. These programs, supported by donors such as the European Union and the governments of Canada and the Netherlands, aim to create conditions for a favorable and attractive SSE environment.

JEUN'ESS is one of the ILO projects working on the Social and Solidarity Economy in Tunisia. They focus on optimizing the "solidarity chain" to enable greater added value for Tunisian products. They support SSE entities, such as cooperatives, to strengthen their production, transform and diversify their products, and access markets through better marketing and certification strategies.

These projects concentrate on creating the first generation of SSE entities in Tunisia following the adoption of the law in 2020. The Social Innovation Fund was thus created to select over 100 SSE new projects. They are currently for a period of six months, resulting in legal establishment and providing technical and financial support to beneficiaries. In less than two years, 42 SSE organizations have already benefited from technical and financial support to develop their activities.

At the strategic level, the ILO office in Tunis is the main partner of the Ministry of Economy and Planning in the Social and Solidarity Economy portfolio. It supported the establishment of a commission and provided experts who developed the SSE 2035 vision as part of Tunisia's 2023-2025 Development Plan. The Ministry also receives support for mapping social entrepreneurship initiatives in Tunisia, their evaluation for capitalization and scaling up. This study aims to lead to a National policy for economic empowerment.

The "Community Fund" also provides support to local communities and social partners for the development of SSE projects. An SSE guide for local communities has been developed to allow greater capitalization and coordination of SSE action at the local level.

The LIMITL'ESS clubs are another initiative of these projects. In partnership with the international organization ENACTUS, ENACTUS LIMITL’ESS clubs have been established alongside the LIMITL’ESS Generation clubs within youth and cultural centers in Tunisia. Their aim is to raise awareness among young people about the values, principles, and opportunities promoted by SSE (Social and Solidarity Economy).

Finally, the Market Fund will serve as the tool for capitalization and sustainability of the JEUN’ESS initiative. In the context of the challenges mentioned earlier, it is crucial to provide direct support to these entities to enhance their capacity to follow a complete process in their value chain. Support for strengthening their production capacity, diversification and/or transformation of their products, and the improvement of their governance systems would be insufficient unless we move towards systemic change aimed at improving the business environment and support programs for market access.

Marketing in the context of the Social and Solidarity Economy encompasses several key points:
  • Moving towards local markets at the national or international level.
  • Drawing inspiration from the proximity between producers and consumers to develop a relationship of trust that fosters customer loyalty and economic development.
  • Valuing local raw materials through natural products and traditional local craftsmanship. The product primarily tells a story that will be valued to attract consumers.
  • Emphasizing transparency so that consumers can have detailed information about the product they are purchasing, including the source of raw materials, the techniques used, and the names of the producers.
Part of the ILO staff in Tunisia has also been trained in ILO SSE tools such as My.Coop, Think.Coop, Start.Coop, and Generate your social enterprises ideas for youth. These tools will benefit many partners in the field to multiply the knowledge and skills of the ILO.

These initiatives are delivered in collaboration with the daily support of the ILO COOP unit in Geneva.

Institutional partners

  • Ministry of Development, Investment and International Cooperation (MDiCI) (Main partner)
  • Ministry of Agriculture, Water Resources and Fisheries (MARHP)
  • Ministry of Vocational Training and Employment (MFPE)
  • Ministry of Social Affairs (MAS)
  • Social partners: Tunisian Union of Industry, Trade and Handicrafts (UTICA); Tunisian General Labour Union (UGTT); and Tunisian Union of Agriculture and Fisheries (UTAP)


Development objective:

The promotion of decent work for young people through the SSE.

Specific objectives:
  1. Improvement of knowledge on the SSE value chains and the characteristics of the informal economy at regional level
  2. Capacity building of SSE support organizations
  3. Creation of decent jobs at local level through the SSE in six governorates
  4. Improving the working conditions of workers in the informal economy through the SSE

Ultimate beneficiaries

  • Young people in the project intervention area
  • SSE organizations
  • Support and accompaniment structures for SSE organizations

Expected results

  • Survey on informality carried out in the target governorates
  • Local economic opportunities in the SSE and value chains identified
  • Results of the survey and studies utilized
  • Project monitoring and evaluation system developed
  • Regional SSE support structures identified
  • Capacities of SSE support structures improved
  • Operational SSE clubs within professional training centres established
  • Operational and transparent SSE funding systems established
  • Individual self-entrepreneurs organized into SSE groups
  • Income of self-entrepreneurs sensitized to the SSE improved thanks to better access to markets
For more information, see the ILO Development Cooperation Dashboard