Jamel joins a new generation of entrepreneurs in Gafsa with his paper cup business
The region of Gafsa is renowned for its phosphate-rich land and mining sector. However, a new generation of entrepreneurs, like Jamel Ounis, are diversifying the business landscape, highlighting the numerous investment opportunities the region offers.
Jamel is the founder of OXANSSE Gobelets, a paper cup manufacturing business. After studying automation and industrial maintenance he got a job at Tunisia’s leading poultry company. While working as a production manager in the packaging department of the firm’s subsidiary in Libya, he got inspired by the manufacturing of cardboard egg boxes and started thinking about setting up his own enterprise. In 2011, Jamel resigned and returned to his homeland eager to build his knowledge and skills in packaging production techniques.
“I made a list of four or five different ideas of packaging businesses and started to research which one had the most potential to succeed in Gafsa,” Jamel explains. “I conducted a study, looking at various things like the availability of raw materials and level of investment needed. Paper cups production came out on top so I prepared my business plan and submitted it to the bank for a loan.”
Jamel also managed to convince the bank about the potential of paper cup manufacturing and successfully obtained a bank loan of 134,000 Tunisian Dinars to purchase two key machines. OXANSSE Gobelets started production in February 2017 and a month later the budding entrepreneur had already won new clients and delivered his first order.
During an entrepreneurship event in Tozeur, Jamel met an expert from the Mashrou3i project, funded by USAID, the Italian Cooperation and the HP Foundation and implemented by UNIDO. As part of deep dive business coaching Mashrou3i provides to strengthen start-ups in Tunisia’s interior regions, Jalel received several training workshops in environment, marketing, communication and access to markets. Through the training he strengthened his managerial skills and also created a business network which has helped find new clients.
“Mashrou3i is a great opportunity to create and expand your network of contacts, essential for any entrepreneur,” says Jamel. “Thanks to Mashrou3i, its easier for me to reach out to potential customers or deliver products. Whether in Tozeur, Kebili or elsewhere, now I’ve got a professional network for sharing contacts or solving problems on the ground.”
In November 2018, the project Mashrou3i also supported his participation as an exhibitor at the Agrimed trade fair in Sfax.
“Thanks to my participation in this fair, awareness of my business increased significantly and I won dozens of new clients across the country,” he says enthusiastically.
Attendance in Agrimed was a turning point for Jamel’s business, which is already attracting interest of customers in neighbouring Algeria and beyond.
“I currently have 3 employees, but after our participation in Agrimed, and with the new market in Algeria that we are going to export to soon, I plan to recruit more people in the team so we can increase our productivity.”