Eco Natura – ensuring quality and sustainability
Ain Draham is known for its cool climate, hot springs, the high perched village and its rich and varied plant heritage. Here, in this land of her ancestors, Hend Azizi chose at 29 years old, to launch her business: “EcoNatura”, a processing unit for medicinal plants and local products.
Hend was born and raised in Tunis. In 2018, she graduated as a chemical engineer. Even though she was interested by working among pharmaceutical companies, she remained very attracted to the region of her grandparents, which according to her, offers opportunities for development.
She started her path in entrepreneurship through social action as an active member of an NGO in the region. Through contact with the beneficiaries of this NGO – Tunisian migrants who were supported in launching their business as they returned to their home, she understood the meaning of the word ‘entrepreneurship’. She later discovered, as head of the Club Entreprendre, that the region had great potential in terms of human and natural resources.
“I decided to use my skills as a chemical engineer to promote the traditional know-how of women in my region through the extraction of myrtle and lentisque oils, which are more and more neglected.”
In 2019, she settled permanently in Ain Draham, and pursued her dream step by step. She started the study of her project and didn’t miss an opportunity to train herself in as entrepreneur by improving her skills in project management, soft skills or choice of equipment. As we commonly say “effort pays off”, her subscription was accepted by an NGO working to develop the region’s natural resources. She received a donation that enabled her to finance her equipment, set up her laboratory and start her activities.
“The most difficult stage for me was setting up the laboratory. From the start, my vision of the project was clear: to develop the products of my region in accordance with international organic standards and ISO norms. So, I put a lot of time and effort into setting up the premises offered by my grandfather and in May 2020 I started production.”
During the same period, Hend was contacted by the experts of the project Mashrou3i, who, aware of the important role Hend was playing in the protection of the region’s plant heritage and the sustainable development, helped her to further consolidate her approach to manufacture innovative products based on forest fruits and medicinal plants such as myrtle, eucalyptus, cypress and peppermint.
“Thanks to the support of Mashrou3i, I was able to enhance my skills. Firstly through a technical training in fruit drying and jam making, and then through a second training focused on plant extraction and valorization. These two trainings enabled me to develop my technical skills in the agro-industrial manufacturing process. In addition to the industrial perspective of valorizing aromatic and medicinal plants, I was able to develop a good network within Mashrou3i’s community of entrepreneurs, which today enables me to dry my plants thanks to Maha Bargaoui’s dryer in Siliana and to sell her myrtles to produce her jams.”
Hend adds: “Thanks to Mashrou3i, I also carried out stability analyses of my wild jams, certifying the natural origin of my essential oils and the bssissa, as well as the nutritional and phytotherapeutic quality of their components.”
Assisted also by the project in the design and registration of her brand, Hend hopes soon to represent “Eco Natura” and Ain Draham with her wild jams and essential oils in international fairs.