Success story: Fatma turns a hobby into a thriving textile business

October 4, 2018

There is a steady hum of sewing machines at Fatma Hassine’s textile company in Makthar, in the region of Siliana. School starts in two weeks and her 13 employees are busy adding the finishing touches to an order. Fatma is closely inspecting the hems on some school wear, making sure the clothes are perfect right down to the last detail.

Orders have been increasing since Fatma launched NawaraTex in May 2018. The company specialized in the design and manufacture of linens and personalized outfits, has already gained many customers in the region and beyond.

Fatma recounts how she first got the idea for her business. “In the summer when we were young, we had to find ways to entertain ourselves,” she remembers. “This was when I discovered my interest in textiles. To pass the time, I learned how to sew and to embroider. After finishing my studies, I decided to turn my hobby into a business.”

Fatma studied textile product design at the ISMM (Higher Institute of Fashion Professions) in Monastir. After graduating in 2011, she went to the Business Center in Siliana to carry out the CEFE training and to prepare her business plan. For several years, she worked freelance as a tailor, putting aside some of her earnings and applying for additional funding until she had the resources ready to officially launch her business.

In 2017, she discovered the Mashrou3i project, organized by UNIDO and funded by USAID, the Italian Cooperation and the HP Foundation.

“I first completed the HP LIFE e-learning training online and then took part in a face-to-face training,” she says. “The HP LIFE program helped me improve my accounting skills, understand the meaning of profitability, negotiate with suppliers, but above all to introduce myself commercially – something I was not naturally good at.”

After the HP LIFE training, Fatma was contacted by UNIDO experts. The regional expert provided her with business coaching, assisting her in all the necessary administrative proceedings to launch her start up. Another expert in access to finance helped her to obtain additional funds from ENDA, a microfinance institution.

“I’ve been supported by Mashrou3i at all stages in the creation of NawaraTex,” Fatma explains. “Thanks to UNIDO’s experts, I was able to move forward in my entrepreneurial journey without fear and received training adapted to my needs, such as in sales techniques and communication.”

“Mashrou3i also taught me how to develop my commercial awareness. I first made samples of my products. Then with these, I started presenting my business to major local institutions in the region like schools, hospitals and factories,” she explains. “Step by step, I’ve gained many new clients and productivity has grown.”

Fatma received funding of 117,000 Tunisian Dinars from GIZ, BFPME (SME’s Bank), ENDA and Réseau Entreprendre to launch the business. She will also receive additional financing from the Souk Attanmia program to purchase new machines that will enable her to do embroidery in-house.

“Mashrou3i helped me make my dream come true, and especially opened up new horizons for me to continue Nawaratex’s development,” she says. “I hope in the near future to be able enter new export markets.”