In the stifling summer heat in downtown Kairouan you can hear the sound of a machine humming. Mahmoud, a young entrepreneur from the region, is busy finishing an order for one of his clients - some posters for a kindergarten.
When you meet Mahmoud, the founder of BM Print, he immediately captivates you with his smile. In 2012 he embarked on an entrepreneurial journey and despite life throwing several challenges his way, he’s managed to bounce back from adversity and remain resolutely positive.
After finishing his studies in electrical engineering, like many young graduates in Tunisia, Mahmoud struggled to find a job. Forced to find a way to cover his expenses he decided to start a business in partnership with his sister.
"While I was looking for a job, my sister was launching an advertising agency. I saw an opportunity to to build the company up together, but the venture quickly failed,” says Mahmoud. “I learned a lot from the experience though. In fact, I think it made me even more determined to start my own business."
Convinced that entrepreneurship is the only alternative to unemployment, Mahmoud started identifying and pursuing new ideas for his business.
"I spent a lot of time thinking, asking myself what project would be the right opportunity for me,” recalls Mahmoud. “I knew how to work on machines, I was comfortable using different software and I liked design and creativity. Starting a printing company seemed like the best way to combine these things.”
After choosing his business idea, Mahmoud got in touch with the Kairouan Business Center to find out about entrepreneurship courses. He was recommended to participate in the Mashrou3i project, organized by UNIDO and funded by USAID, the Italian Cooperation and the HP Foundation.
Mahmoud took part in one of Mashrou3i’s HP LIFE workshops to ensure he had the skillsets required to start and run his business. A HP LIFE trainer also helped Mahmoud to fine-tune his project idea and complete his business plan, enabling him to obtain a loan of 62,000 Tunisian Dinars from the Tunisian Bank of Solidarity. Mashrou3i also provided Mahmoud with business coaching during the launch of his startup and he attended a specialized training in administration to help him better manage his business in terms of taxation and social security.
"Through Mashrou3i, I also met young entrepreneurs like myself and was able to build my network,” says Mahmoud. “It’s encouraging to follow everyone’s progress. We also help and support each other to achieve our goals.”
Mahmoud officially opened his digital and offset printing company in August 2017. Today, the business is already well established in the region and offers a broad range of advertising products to customers (posters, business cards, stickers and banners). Mahmoud manages the orders, from graphic design to final production, with one employee by his side. The young entrepreneur is keen to offer the best service.
“I proactively seeks out new promotional materials I can suggest to my clients, like customized calendars for parents from the kindergarten, or large-sized reproductions of paintings from Kairouanese artists,” says Mahmoud.
With his honed entrepreneurial skills and positive attitude, Mahmoud has put BM Print on the right track for many more years of creative projects.