Amel Saidane is an entrepreneur, ecosystem builder and digital transformation expert.
She is president of TunisianStartups, an association giving a voice to Tunisian startups. She is the co-founder of BetaCube, a venture builder in fintech and mobility solutions. She also the co-founder of Digital2Value, an SME digital transformation platform.
Explain your job to a five-year-old
My sons are a bit older, but they’re always asking me this question. First, I tell them people can have many jobs, and that I personally am creating my own job. I think this relieves the pressure young people feel about needing to choose single career paths.
I also tell them that I am helping people build factories that create stuff.
What’s something you wish you knew earlier in your life or career?
Oh, there are so many things. One of them is knowing how cool entrepreneurship is. I grew up in the white-collar generation and the entrepreneurship or startup path was not an option. It’s enviable that the new generation gets this option, and the access to all the information they need to develop the competencies needed.
What’s the most promising thing about tech in Africa?
It’s the people.
It’s what pushes me to develop in the startup ecosystem because every time I develop something new, I find these amazing people who are positive, believers in their own countries, and champions of innovation. It’s inspiring. If you have the right people, everything else is possible.
On the continent, we have the capacity to adapt. There’s the survivor mindset that helps us to leverage challenges and turn them into business opportunities.
What’s one misconception people have about the tech ecosystem in North Africa?
I think it’s that people think the ecosystem here speaks only French or Arabic. So we often see narratives that tout how much language can be a barrier to collaborating with North Africa.
People often think that North Africa is so different from sub-Saharan Africa but it’s not. We may have different challenges but we have equally challenging environments. We all need to connect more and learn from each other because at the root level, we’re all the same.
What singular achievement are you most proud of?
I’m actually very proud of taking a step towards working in the startup ecosystem. I spent the first few years of my career working for multinational companies so moving from that comfort zone to a career that’s often unpredictable and financially unstable is something I’m proud of.
Then I’m also proud of deciding to stay in my country and contribute to the economy.
What’s something you love doing that you’re not great at? And what’s something you don’t love doing but are great at?
I actually love good food but I’m not so good at making it.
And I’m great at working through the day, but I don’t necessarily enjoy it. I’m a whiz when it comes to working hard and long, but I would prefer to take it slow and enjoy life.