Success Story: Najla Riahi opens the first high-tech dental office for prosthetic services in Gabes

January 26, 2018

At 29 years old, Najla Riahi has opened a dental office for prosthetic services in Gabes with a total investment of more than 216,000 Tunisian Dinars.

After completing her studies in dentistry, Najla had a clear path laid out in front of her, but she soon realized that she wanted to be her own boss. “People would often put a spoke in my wheel, mainly because I am woman, but also because I am hard-working and ambitious, which is sometimes perceived as a threat,” explained Najla. “I quickly learned to be independent and made the decision to specialize in new denture technologies so that I could open my own office.”

Step by step, Najla researched and gathered advice to identify the most promising sector in her field in the Gabes region. She quickly realized the needs of the market in terms of manufacturing dental prostheses using computer-aided design/computer-aided manufacturing (CAD/CAM). This highly advanced technique allows Zirconia dental prostheses to be designed and manufactured in a single production process.

“Most of the dentists and prosthetists in my region use either the conventional, and lower quality method, or subcontract to prosthetists using the CAD/CAM system in Sfax or Tunis,” said Najla.

Highly motivated, she started searching for a CAD/CAM machine. Soon, through perseverance, she managed to find a supplier who wanted to sell his machine and decided to purchase not only the machine but all the necessary stock for the business, negotiating a total price of 216,000 Tunisian Dinars. In January 2016, Najla received all the equipment, oversaw the renovation of her office and officially opened the following month. Since then she has created 2 skilled jobs.

Despite a difficult path in her search for funding, she remained focused, using her free time to attend several dental conferences, to strengthen her professional network and to improve her entrepreneurial and CAD/CAM technology skills.

In parallel with her business launch, Najla discovered through the Business Centre of Gabes, the Mashrou3i project, organized by UNIDO and funded by USAID, the Italian Cooperation and the HP Foundation. Alongside receiving support in her funding research, the Mashrou3i expert also helped her to participate in an additional training in the use of her CAD/CAM machine in Germany. In August 2017, Najla also attended a Mashrou3i group coaching session in marketing and communication to further strengthen her skills.

“In addition to the technical assistance and coaching I received through the Mashrou3i project, the moral support provided by the expert has been essential,” she said. “Feeling supported enables any entrepreneur to stay on track with their ambitions. Today, I know that my project is innovative and very competitive on the market. I even want to expand my activities to other governorates.”

“One day at the Business Centre of Gabes, I read a slogan on one of their brochures “Do not look for a job, create it”. Something clicked for me. Since then, I make sure, day after day, that I never lose my motivation and always strive to keep my place in the market. The entrepreneurial journey will never be easy but with willpower, anything is possible.”