Mohamed Hichri develops guilt-free healthy snacks to satisfy a sweet tooth
In March 2020, the pandemic of COVID-19 reached Tunisia and the governorate of Zaghouan. As the Tunisian government announced a national lockdown, Mohamed Hichri, a young agro-industrial engineer from the region, was about to launch his brand “Ouba Ouba” for fruit-based sweets.
Like many young Tunisian graduates who are experiencing difficulties with unemployment, business creation represents the best option. Mohamed chose to put his know-how and creativity to the benefit of his own business project.
“I had just returned from Algeria after a one-year stay, with the hope of launching a new innovative project in my native region. The time had come to get rid of my fears about the future but also about failure. Ten years of experience in the canning industry, powdered milk and export of fruits and vegetables, were for me the needed background to move forward, and to create and innovate in the production of natural candies based on fruits, apples, lemons, strawberries, apricots.”
Mohamed knew how to take advantage of the confinement by working on his prototype and developing a range of products with different textures and tastes from seasonal fruits. After the end of the lockdown and a quick installation of his equipment in July, he was ready to test and supply his new product in Zaghouan.
“I am currently working with retailers”, explains Mohamed, “and negotiations are underway with two wholesalers in the region. With the support of Mashrou3i, all the factors are now in place to ensure the success of my project.”
Mohamed met the Mashrou3i’s expert of access to finance in the Business Center of Zaghouan. The project Mashrou3i financed by USAID, helped him to complete his financing scheme for a total investment of 37,000 TND and supported him in his administrative steps to launch his business.
“As an engineer, I was happy to benefit from marketing training provided by the Mashrou3i’s expert in marketing and access to markets. I was also assisted in the graphic design of my logo and the production of my packaging labels.”
“Mashrou3i also offered me to register my trademark at the INNORPI. All the conditions are now in place to get out of the risk zone with a good product and ensure the viability of my project.”
Armed with patience and good determination, Mohamed has every chance on his side to succeed in his project: “The world has changed,” he says, “especially following the COVID-19 pandemic. Investing in innovation is essential to secure future growth.”