Business coaching supports agricultural development groups and social entrepreneurship

December 8, 2021

During November 2021, Mashrou3i held face-to-face business coaching for social entrepreneurs operating in the agri-food and crafts sectors. Representatives from 12 local Agricultural Development Groups (GDAs), cooperatives (SMSAs) and women’s groups working in the country’s interior were selected by Mashrou3i experts to attend the 10-day training. The aim was to create synergies and to identify solutions that add value to their activities, which include pottery, artisanal weaving, essential oils and honey derivatives.

“Social entrepreneurs from the country’s interior regions have been facing unprecedented challenges. During this time, Mashrou3i has provided continuous support to these social entrepreneurs and has set up a whole process to help them form legal and formal entities, educate and train their members, structure their activities and create more jobs.” said Sonia M’Hamdi, HP LIFE and Entrepreneurship Expert (Mashrou3i).

24 social entrepreneurs from Gafsa, Kebili, Jendouba, Beja, Medenine and Siliana took part in the training provided by Mashrou3i in Hammamet. Split into two 5-day sessions, the first workshop was dedicated to networking, group cohesion and the management of funds – ensuring the social entrepreneurs are equipped with the tools and skills needed to succeed. The second workshop focused on enhancing production and provided technical training in olive oil tasting techniques, distillation of aromatic and medicinal plants, making date jam, honey-based cosmetics and ecological packaging. With the support of Mashrou3i experts, the entrepreneurs worked together on the creation of two value chains: agro-industry and handicrafts.

“Thanks to this training, I discovered the foundations of group governance, the major difficulties that can delay its operation, and all the determinants for its success. I also learned the difference between presenting, pitching and demonstrating, and the strong points to put forward when convincing a partner whether they are a customer, a supplier or a financial backer. Moreover, we learned how to highlight the skills of our group and especially to keep a constant eye on the internal and external factors that can impact its activities.” underlines Ali Kheder, expert in design and representative of the women artisan group for pottery “Poterie Rouached” in Gafsa.

The training builds on support already provided by Mashrou3i to the 12 social entities, that each have around 20-40 members. Since April 2021, Mashrou3i experts have supported through HP LIFE online workshops and business coaching to equip the groups with the commercial and technological tools needed to face the daily challenges of the business world. They also provided assistance in the development of their social business models and social business plans and provided training in access to finance and taxation.

“Throughout 2021, Mashrou3i has helped us to structure our group’s activities. Today, the project teaches us to be confident, to stay united and to succeed in negotiations thanks to good group cohesion. This training was also an opportunity for me to meet entrepreneurs from other sectors and to create synergies, for example in packaging, to collectively promote our Tunisian local products.” Intissar Mersni, spokesperson for the Ain Soltane beekeeping group

As a reminder, the Mashrou3i project is a public-private partnership between the Tunisian government, USAID, the Italian Cooperation and HP Foundation, and implemented in Tunisia by UNIDO. Through HP LIFE training for entrepreneurs, in-depth coaching and technical assistance, Mashrou3i aims to create nearly 6’000 jobs and train nearly 5’000 students in entrepreneurship in 14 regions of the country.