The U.S. State Department announced a competition to support a new public-private partnership between the United States and the North African countries of Algeria, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia.

Under the department’s Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI), the goal of the competition is to foster economic opportunity and encourage innovation and entrepreneurship, job creation and partnership development in these four North African countries.

“I have been involved in similar projects of the Department of Commerce that have increased our business substantially,” Bachir Mihoubi, founder and managing director of the FranCounsel Group, an Atlanta-based international network of franchise professionals. “Of course, there are many opportunities to be explored.”

Mr. Mihoubi, an attorney, is originally from Algeria. He founded the Atlanta-based North African American Business Council and was actively involved in the Arab-American Business Association, also based in Atlanta, during the 1990s.

The Middle East Partnership Initiative is soliciting applications that will support partnerships among businesses and business associations, foundations, civil society organizations and private entities.

In the past, the partnership initiative has been responsible for placing women in internships with local companies.

Details about the initiative and the application process may be found at

To learn more about the FranCounsel Group, go to