Abdelmagid Rakkaz has just moved his plastic pipe business, Plasta, into a workshop on the outskirts of Tataouine. He proudly unrolls the new stock of plastic piping and carefully prepares the winding of the pipes, the centering and finally the labelling before delivering the order to one of his first customers.
Abdelmagid enthusiastically reflects on the first steps of his entrepreneurial career.
"Just two years ago, in 2016, I was a student finishing my studies in chemical engineering in Gabes,” Abdelmagid says. “And it was during a summer internship in Sfax, that I got the idea of creating a plastic pipe manufacturing business in my hometown, Tataouine."
Thanks to this internship, and his analytical skills, Abdelmagid quickly saw the potential of his business idea. Manufactured locally, plastic piping is in high demand from various sectors whether agriculture, construction or residential plumbing. So he started working hard to develop this niche and establish his business in the region.
"I had many opportunities, and support in financing my project which required an investment of 180,000 Tunisian Dinars, of which 148,000 Tunisian Dinars was provided by a loan from the Tunisian Bank of Solidarity (BTS)."
Abdelmagid also avidly engaged himself in trainings offered to aspiring entrepreneurs in the region, including the project Mashrou3i, a public-private partnership between USAID, the Italian Cooperation, the HP Foundation and UNIDO. After completing the HP LIFE online courses, Abdelmagid participated in a Mashrou3i entrepreneurship training to help overcome the obstacles in launching his business.
"In the training I worked on my feasibility study with the support of a coach, Mr. Abdelkarim Boussetta,” says Abdelmagid. “This study helped me to win a grant of 8,000 Tunisian Dinars from the Ministry of Vocational Training and Employment’s Raed program. It also enabled me to finalize my business plan which helped me to get a grant of 50,000 Tunisian Dinars from the Souk Attanmia program to start my business.”
To ensure a successful launch, the needs of Plasta were diagnosed by a Mashrou3i expert in the field. "In addition to training in accounting, Mashrou3i provided me with training in communication and access to markets. My staff also benefited from several technical trainings on computer numerical control (CNC) machines, computer-aided production engineering and product marking," he adds.
Today and thanks to the expertise provided by Mashrou3i, Abdelmagid intends to distinguish the company with an excellent price/quality ratio. Using direct marketing, he is also raising awareness of his business and strengthening customer loyalty.
"Mashrou3i gave me all the necessary tools to start my business,” Abdelmagid says. “I also received a training in oral presentation techniques that really helped improve my communication skills and enabled me to raise awareness of my company through an interview on regional radio.”