This finance graduate saw a gap in the local market for traditional pastries
After several years studying Finance and a master’s degree in Management, Karima Omri struggled to get a job in finance, even though she was top of her class. At 32 years old, she made a 360 degree turn and decided to launch her own bakery. Today she is the proud owner of Dolce Gusto, a popular haunt among the Feriana community, in the region of Kasserine.
While studying at the University of Economics and Management in Sousse, Karima noticed a gap in the market between Sousse and her hometown of Feriana, especially in terms of food products.
“It’s hard to find quality products in Feriana,” she explains. “Many young women are forced to go to Tunis to buy pastry, cosmetics or many other things.”
After several months being unemployed, Karima decided to take her fate into her own hands. In 2015, she carried out a technical training and several internships at famous bakeries in Sousse to learn the tricks of the pastry trade.
“I did several unpaid internships and even visited women in their homes who bake artisanal pastries to understand traditional techniques,” explains Karima. “I also invested all my savings to receive training for professionals to perfect my pastry-making skills.”
At the end of 2018, Karima was contacted by an expert from the project Mashrou3i, a public-private partnership between the Tunisian Government, USAID, the Italian Cooperation, the HP Foundation and UNIDO.
“Before Mashrou3i support, I was not aware of the steps needed to start and grow your business,” says Karima. “I worked from home and sold my products through social networks. It was only after completing the HP LIFE e-Learning program that I felt ready to open my own bakery and invest in my career as an entrepreneur.”
During a 5-day HP LIFE training provided by Mashrou3i, Karima learned essential entrepreneurship skills, from accounting and management to marketing her products.
“Mashrou3i was the driving force behind my ambitions. The training boosted my confidence and helped me gain a clearer vision of what I wanted, the path I should take and how to follow it,” she adds.
In March 2019, Karima launched Dolce Gusto in a residential area of Feriana. The bakery has become hugely popular among customers of all ages. The budding pastry chef makes pastries for children on their way to school, juices and donuts for afternoons with friends, personalized cakes for birthdays, salty and traditional pastries for weddings. All clients agree on Karima’s main marketing asset: her smile!
“You must always be smiling, whatever your job, whatever people are facing you,” says Karima. “It’s by being positive that the positive things come to you!”
Today, Karima is quick to offer advice to young graduates searching a job.
“Working as an employee is not the only option. Become an entrepreneur, be independent, learn from your mistakes, this will shape your career.”
As for her future, the young entrepreneur is filled with new ideas. Constantly thinking of how to develop her business, Karima wants to extend her company to provide catering services for ceremonies and events.