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From research to practice, INRGREF partners with Mashrou3i to add value to forest heritage

February 1, 2019

The Mashrou3i project facilitated the signing of an agreement between INRGREF and a young entrepreneur from Ghardimaou in Jendouba region.

As part of its business coaching activities, the project Mashrou3i facilitated the signing of an agreement between the National Institute for Research in Rural Engineering, Water and Forests (INRGREF) and Mrs. Maha Kahlaoui, founder of La Maison du Caroube on 30 January 2018. This agreement of a 1-year period, with possibility of renewal, will include technical assistance and support, helping the female entrepreneur to launch her company. The INRGREF guarantees its support in the technical process of valorization of the carob tree especially in the manufacture of flour and carob syrup.

Thanks to this agreement, Maha Kahlaoui secures the support needed to successfully launch her business in Ghardimaou, in the governorate of Jendouba. In 2019, she will be leading the first carob powder production unit in Tunisia in the North West region. Still unknown by many people, carob powder is produced from grinding the kernels of the carob tree. Often used as a natural sweetener in baked goods, the healthy alternative to cocoa is gaining popularity abroad, especially in Europe.

“This is a very special day for me today, this agreement seals a lasting partnership with INRGREF. Supported also by Mashrou3i, I am now confident about the future of my company, and I hope to make a difference in promoting the wealth of my region.”

Maha Kahlaoui, entrepreneur in Ghardimaou and founder of La Maison du Caroube

This agreement marks the beginning of a lasting collaboration between the project Mashrou3i and INRGREF. By joining forces with INRGREF, Mashrou3i, an entrepreneurial support program resulting from a public-private partnership between the Tunisian government, USAID, UNIDO, the Italian Cooperation and the HP Foundation, hopes to raise awareness of the natural heritage of the northern regions of Tunisia by assisting young entrepreneurs to launch their businesses in this sector.

“We particularly want to enhance the forest heritage of the North-West. This opens up many opportunities for partnerships between entrepreneurs and INRGREF. “

Faycal Belaid, regional expert on the Mashrou3i project for the Northwest regions.

INRGREF nurtures its hopes on the establishment of a structural framework between the two organizations that will ultimately enhance the country’s natural resources, and finally move beyond the stage of theory to practice.

“A partnership between UNIDO and Mashrou3i can be beneficial to raise awareness of research and development and it is an opportunity of mutual interest.”

Zouhaier Nasr, Director General of the National Institute of Research in Rural Engineering, Waters and Forests

With more than 20 years of experience in the research and development of studies related to the exploitation of carob, Mr. Abdelhamid Khaldi, researcher at INRGREF and Maha Kahlaoui’s mentor, is excited about the synergies between research & development and entrepreneurship.

“I have been working on the carob tree for almost 20 years, and Maha is a role model for promoting our work and moving from theory to practice “

Researcher at the National Research Institute of Rural Engineering, Water and Forests (INGREF).

In this context, Mashrou3i was invited to participate in the Scientific Day of INRGREF to be held on 10 and 11 April in Hammamet, which will seal the junction between research and development of products from the forest heritage.

In the meantime, the entrepreneurship assistance program will continue its efforts to support young entrepreneurs in 14 regions of the country, thereby promoting job creation.

“Like many other projects in the Jendouba region, Mashrou3i will continue to assist Maha until the foundation of her project is strong and she can stand on her own.”

Faycal Belaid, regional expert on the Mashrou3i project for the Northwest regions.