Success Story: Yamina Ferchichi turns love of art into a business thanks to the Mashrou3i program

July 7, 2017, Kef

Yamina Ferchichi’s love for art and decoration began very early in life. But it was not until later, at the Higher Institute of Fine Arts in Tunis, that she specialized in weaving, and truly discovered her passion.

In 2011, with revolution affecting Tunisia, Ferchichi decided to leave her master’s degree program and to return to Kef, her hometown. There, she began planning the launch of her own business, FRACTAL DESIGN, which manufactures art and decorative objects.

Aware of the importance of the historical and cultural heritage of her region, she was determined to add value to this heritage by introducing modern design and technology.

In 2014, Ferchichi was invited to a training course by the APII Business Incubator in Kef to raise awareness of entrepreneurship opportunities. She was selected to benefit from the Mashrou3i program organized in the region by UNIDO with the support of its partners, USAID, the Italian Development Cooperation, and the HP Foundation.

The Mashrou3i program is designed to foster a spirit of entrepreneurship and offer tools that support rising business owners. Its mission is to create some 6,000 jobs and reach more than 25,000 aspiring and existing entrepreneurs in Tunisia over the next five years. In addition to mentoring and technical skills training, participants have access to HP LIFE, a free, online program of the HP Foundation, which features 27 interactive modules covering business and IT skills training in seven languages.

Ferchichi is one of many women who have benefited from the Mashrou3i program. It has given her a community and the skills she needs for her creative business.

“The HP LIFE face-to-face workshop really inspired me,” said Ferchichi. “There I met a community of aspiring entrepreneurs determined and motivated like me to launch their projects. We were required to work hard, and I learned a lot from the trainers and the other training participants. I particularly liked the modules on marketing—especially learning about the differences between direct and indirect sales and developing a business model.” 

In 2015, she gained further support through the Mashrou3i program when she was selected to participate in the business coaching program. “That’s where I realized my business plan, which helped me gain funding to establish my project,” she said.

With her rapid mastery of the design and digital manufacture of medium-density fiberboard (MDF) wood, Ferchichi has already gained two types of clients in Kef. Those clients are consumers, who purchase her products directly, and business professionals, in particular carpenters, who purchase her products for use as part of their own services.

Now, Ferchichi’s main goal is to develop direct sales in a show room in Kef, interior design stores in Tunis, and online. In one year’s time Ferchichi hopes her business will achieve the financial stability to increase her current number of employees from two to six people.