Marwa’s bakery proves a recipe for success in Kef
With its sugar frosting, vanilla pastry custard and a slightly crisp puff pastry, Marwa Nail’s vanilla slices have become the sweet speciality of the city of Tajerouine. Even people from neighboring Algeria do not hesitate to stop to enjoy the delights of La Genoise bakery.
This is a success story from the north-west of the country, full of sweet flavours, as you might say. A technician in agri-food, Marwa was only 24 years old when she decided to open her bakery in Kalaat Senan in the region of Kef.
“When I finished my studies, I didn’t wait long before launching my business,” says Marwa. “My training didn’t open up many opportunities in my region, so I took advantage of my agri-food skills to create my dream job as a pastry chef.”
Marwa crafts a path for herself that many entrepreneurs would dream of. By combining her childhood passion for pastry and independent personality she found a recipe for success.
“I have always been quite independent, so it seemed obvious to me to become an entrepreneur at the end of my studies,” she says confidently.
Organized and assiduous, Marwa was aware that a business requires specific managerial skills and a lot of patience. Yet she didn’t need to wait long before the doors of her bakery opened, thanks to the support of her family, local institutions and the project Mashrou3i.
In October 2016, she embarked on her first steps towards entrepreneurship with the completion of the CEFE training in Tunis and a training in business creation at the The Agency for the Promotion of Industry and Innovation (APII) incubator a month later. This is when she met an expert from the Mashrou3i project, implemented by UNIDO and funded by USAID, the Italian Cooperation and the HP Foundation, and discovered the HP LIFE e-learning program.
“Mashrou3i was crucial in building strong foundation for my project and in strengthening my soft skills,” Marwa explains. “Thanks to the HP LIFE e-learning program, I went from a simple project idea to the concrete launch of my business.” She adds. “As a technician, I had no idea about managing costs and accounting. The five courses in Finance really helped me better understand how to manage the cash flow of my business.”
After an exemplary year of entrepreneurial training and an additional technical training in pastry in Tunis, Marwa successfully managed to obtain a loan of 35,000 Tunisian Dinars from the Tunisian Bank of Solidarity (BTS) within only 3 weeks.
La Génoise officially started offering its sweet treats in Kalaat Senan in May, 2018. Today Marwa is the head of a small team with two employees. Located on the main road next to the Tunisia-Algeria border crossing, the bakery has already built up a loyal following of customers.
“A lot of Algerians call me to order their cakes,” says Marwa. “I offer my clients a diversity of specialties based on puff pastry, but I also make personalized cakes for special events, traditional cakes and viennoiseries.”
Marwa reflects positively on her incredible journey so far. “Everything started with a childhood passion, and today I am at the head of a bakery which has already proven its success. I’m optimistic about what the future has to bring!”D