Published on Arab Voices

Profiles of the Diaspora: Rym Baouendi

There are approximately 20 million citizens of the Middle East and North Africa region living abroad. For their countries of origin and the region as a whole, they represent a potential goldmine of knowledge, skills and business networks that remain largely untapped. A new World Bank report Mobilizing the Middle East and North Africa Diaspora for Economic Integration and Entrepreneurship makes the case for regional governments to partner with their diaspora as they can be a source of much more than remittances alone. This blog series aims to introduce readers to individual members of the diaspora, to put a human face on the vast potential they represent. 
Rym Baouendi

Born in Tunisia, Rym Baouendi left at the age of 18. After passing her Tunisian baccalaureate exam, she attended the National Institute of Applied Sciences (INSA) in Lyon (France) where she obtained a Master in civil engineering and urban planning as well as a degree in architecture from the Lyon School of Architecture. She later obtained a Master in building engineering from Concordia University in Montreal (Canada).

She is a real globetrotter: During her professional and personal life, she lived 5 years in France (Lyon), 3 years in Canada (Montreal), 2 years in the US, 2 years in Canada (Montreal), 2 years in the UK (London), 5 years in the United Arab Emirates (Dubai and Abu Dhabi) and has now been in Istanbul (Turkey) for nearly two years.

She is the founder and managing director of Medina Works (MW) in the United Arab Emirates, a consulting firm in sustainability and urban innovation developing solutions for sustainable cities, particularly in the Middle East and the Mediterranean. MW’s multiple purposes focus on two main actions for the city: the sustainability of built environment and the engagement of human capital in creating positive change. Her organization provides expertise and technical and organizational services: public policy consulting, design, program development and implementation, capacity building and impact entrepreneurship .

Baouendi is also the co-founder of Cogite in Tunis, a social enterprise, more specifically the first co-working space in Tunisia that helps young Tunisians engage in entrepreneurship. Cogite organizes structuring events for the community it serves. Though it is not an incubator or an accelerator for businesses, the co-working space helps its members through group energy and meaningful connections. The diversity of member profiles adds value to the space that includes to date over thirty regular members. The concept came after the revolution, when the entrepreneurial sector was boosted by the creation of local endowments and the involvement of international organizations.

Rym Baouendi is also member of Tunisian American Young Professionals (TAYP), which she joined after living in Canada and the United States. She is currently an active member within the World Green Building Council network, a global network founded in 2002 working to accelerate the transformation of the built environment through more environmentally friendly practices. The World GBC network relies on national councils for the creation of favourable conditions for the worldwide development of "green building" market. This is an international coalition representing the global construction industry. In this context, Rym Baouendi encourages the development of green building councils in the Middle East and North Africa region and is a founding member of the Green Building Council Tunisia, created in 2012.

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