Now launched: Winning project of MEDIA LOVES TECH competition | Middle East/North Africa | DW | 19.05.2021
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Middle East/North Africa

Now launched: Winning project of MEDIA LOVES TECH competition

The Tunisian digital stock photo platform "Taswira" is now online and was the top winner of the 2019 MEDIA LOVES TECH competition. The co-founder, Dhafer Hassine, looks back at all the support the project has received.

Dhafer Hassine says one of his dreams has come true: to officially call himself an entrepreneur bred by MEDIA LOVES TECH. The annual competition and initiative is conducted by DW Akademie and the Tunisian media NGO, Al Khatt. It brings together North African teams with ideas for innovative products that combine good journalism and technology, and that have a viable business concept. Selected teams take part in a three-month incubation program to develop their prototypes.  

"The Taswira platform," says Al Khatt's executive director, Malek Khadhraoui, "has great potential and could be a game-changer." 

Many NGOs, few start-ups

Dhafer comes from Gabes, a city in southern Tunisia. He studied engineering in his hometown and says he had always been fascinated by technology. He points to Tunisia's 2011 revolution as a turning point for him: he became active in civil society, worked for NGOs, and eventually left his engineering job to focus on project management and consultation. 

After the revolution, he noticed an increasing number of NGOs but relatively few start-ups. He knew start-ups were harder to establish and so, wanting to close the gap, he began encouraging young people to start their own businesses. "Still, I realized I couldn't encourage them without being an entrepreneur myself," Dhafer says. "I'm convinced entrepreneurship is the solution for Tunisia." 

Dhafer is a passionate amateur photographer and is aware of the many challenges facing photographers and the media in Tunisia. "I knew something was missing. The media here use photos from international outlets, and even articles about Tunisia have photos that don't match," he says. "There's also the issue of copyrights, and that's a challenge for photographers," he adds. 

To better understand the problem and to create a platform suited to the needs of professional photographers, Dhafer regularly contacted SNJT, the Tunisian journalists' union. 

"Taswira is an ambitious project that sees images as an integral part of media support," SNJT president, Mehdi Jlassi stresses. "It aims to secure copyright for photographers and photojournalists because photos are an essential element of journalism," he says. 

A happy coincidence 

"I had so many ideas," says Dhafer. "One day back in 2019 I was working from home in Brussels and was listening to a Tunisian radio station. I heard a coordinator talking about the MEDIA LOVES TECH initiative and decided to enter my idea." He convinced the jury of his plan to design a platform that offered high quality and authentic photo content from Tunisia as well as a copyright to contributing photographers.  

Screenshot Bilddatenbank Taswira aus Tunesien

Taswira is building bridges between journalists and professional photographers

On-going support

As the top winner of the 2019 MEDIA LOVES TECH competition, Dhafer received 10,000 euros. He also received mentoring to develop his idea and a viable business plan as well as a stakeholder matrix. The financial support not only enabled him to get experts on board but it also gave him more confidence about his venture. "With financial support you can take more risks, that's what you need for these types of projects," Dhafer says. He received mentoring throughout the process, including weekly follow-up calls with the MEDIA LOVES TECH team "The most important part has been the constant support," he stresses. 

More than planting a seed 

Dhafer appreciates MEDIA LOVES TECH's process-oriented, long-term approach. "In Tunisia, support for start-ups is often treated like planting a seed, but it takes much more effort and care than that," he says. 

In his view, Taswira has launched at exactly the right time. There is currently a growing awareness of copyright issues in photography. Dhafer hopes that over the next two years, Taswira will become an established platform not only in Tunisia, but in Libya and Algeria as well. 

Some hurdles have already been cleared: Since its launch in March 2021, Taswira has involved 17 photographers from all over the country. From an amount of 3 Tunisian dinars (the equivalent of just under 1 euro), and after only five clicks, a photo is available for one-time use. Of course, Dhafer cannot yet make a living from selling photos, but the community is growing. The site now has more than 3,500 followers. To finance the project, Dhafer Hassine has acquired further funding. A photo competition in cooperation with the Gabes Action Association, sponsored by the German Embassy in Tunis, is intended to draw further attention to the platform and further strengthen the role of photography.


The MEDIA LOVES TECH initiative is funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). 

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