Sewing Success in Siliana
The region of Siliana is renowned for its natural and agricultural resources. Yet starting a business in this region, is not without its challenges. Ali Laabidi, a 27 year old graduate in Computer Sciences, is proving stereotypes wrong with the launch of his textile business, A.Lee.
Located in Krib, a small town at the foot of the the Teboursouk mountains, about 140 km from the capital, Ali’s workshop produces household linen, fabric ornaments, curtains and interior fittings, as well as clothing for women and children. Before launching his business, Ali experienced something many successful entrepreneurs face: failure.
“I’ve had so many different business ideas,” says Ali. “In 2016, I wanted to launch a green, ‘clean’ coal manufacturing company. I developed the business plan and secured 30,000 Tunisian Dinars of investment but until now I still didn’t receive the authorization to collect and recycle wood waste in the surrounding forests.”
While the young entrepreneur was forced to shelve this business idea, the experience made him stronger.
“This experience helped to strengthen my entrepreneurial skills,” says Ali. “And now I feel ready to face any challenge.”
Determined to improve his skills and know-how in business creation and management, Ali participated in various training programs offered by the business support institutions in the region. This is how he also discovered the Mashrou3i project, funded by USAID, the Italian Cooperation and the HP Foundation and implemented by UNIDO.
“The HP LIFE e-Learning workshop really helped me to develop my business plan and prepare the launch of my textile startup,” says Ali. “It also equipped me with the tools needed for running my business.”
In May 2018, after investing 40,000 Tunisian Dinars to purchase equipment and a special printer for customizing garments, the sewing machines at A.Lee whirred into action. Today the business hires four people (all university graduates). Personalized creations and custom orders of A.Lee can be purchased both in Ali’s workshop and at a store he recently established in the center of Krib.
“In addition to the ready-to-wear clothes on display in both stores, my customers are able to choose from a selection of items in our catalogue that we can tailor to meet all their needs,” the young entrepreneur explains.
Up beat and aware of his strengths, but also his weaknesses, Ali is already building a vision for A.Lee. He is currently focusing on his next challenge: digital marketing. A new skill he is confident about mastering with the support of Mashrou3i.