Passionate about arts and design, Halima Chihaoui started her entrepreneurial career at 30-years-old by launching Zorkand Shop, a decorative painting workshop.
"My passion for painting began long before I graduated in interior design in 2008,” said Halima. “I like to customize fabrics, pottery and even wooden tools by painting a pattern that gives the object a special value. I was unemployed at the end of my studies, but now I’ve turned my hobby into my job."
In 2012, Halima took part in the Morraine training to develop her idea, and CEFE to work on her business plan. Two years later, she felt ready to use this know-how and opened a small workshop thanks to the financial help and support of her family, which allowed her to use the ground floor of the family home.
"This entrepreneurial challenge has fuelled my enthusiasm,” said Halima. “I’ve participated with Zorkand Shop in several fairs in Tozeur. I even went so far as to organize my own exhibition last April to present my products and those of other women from the region, which I was able to gather through an association. It was my first event experience and I'm proud of it!"
Over time, Halima has developed different painting techniques by working on pottery, silk and decorative objects. This allowed her to blend traditional patterns and modern objects from different materials such as rush or wood. As a natural extension to her core business activities, she also holds workshops where people can learn her decorative painting techniques.
With the development of her business, Halima decided to strengthen her entrepreneurial skills. In July 2017, she discovered the Mashrou3i program through the Business Center of Tozeur. The Mashrou3i program, organized by UNIDO in partnership with USAID, the Italian Cooperation, and the HP Foundation, is designed to foster a spirit of entrepreneurship and offer tools that support fledging business owners.
"The HP LIFE e-Learning training from Mashrou3i really helped me to refresh some management concepts that I had forgotten,” explains Halima. “Thanks to the ongoing support of the trainers, I was easily able to apply the HP LIFE tools to my business. Now I have a better understanding of my costs and a tool to calculate my margins. It also taught me how to identify and expand my target market, appealing to new audiences like married women with children. Inspiration, innovation and creativity are the key to success in this field, and you have to keep constantly up-to-date."
Halima recruited 4 trainees to help her coach participants in her training sessions and to also manage the Zorkand Shop. Today she is thinking about expanding her project and developing her productive and creative potential. Thanks to technical assistance from the Mashrou3i program, Halima will also benefit from the support of an expert in marketing and communication to enable her to strengthen her sales and marketing skills.