In the center of Tataouine, in a well organized and spacious workshop, Jamel Echaybi is doing a final check on an order for aluminium windows and doors, before delivering and installing them at the customer’s home.
"A few years ago, I didn’t image that I would be working in aluminium carpentry and would be leading a team of 5 employees”, reflects Jamel.
At 19-years-old Jamel wanted to be a banker. But after completing a university degree in finance, he struggled to find a job in banking or the financial sector. To make ends meet he started working as a cashier in a supermarket in Tunis. Determined to develop his career, in 2012 Jalel decided to explore new professional opportunities abroad.
"I moved to Libya where I worked for two years for an Italian company, importing and installing furniture. I learned a lot from importing products, logistics, assembly of furniture and even carpentry,” he says.
However, in 2014 the Libyan civil war broke out, putting an end to Jamel’s first professional experience but also marking the start of his path to entrepreneurship.
After returning to his hometown of Tataouine, Jalel devoted himself to the creation of his business. Even though he lacked professional training, Jalel started to research the aluminium carpentry sector and grew confident about the idea of starting his own business. Luck was on his side. Tataouine was experiencing a boom in new housing construction.
Jalel contacted the Business Center of Tataouine and completed the 21-day CEFE training to develop his project idea. At that time, the director of the Business Center advised him to subscribe to the project Mashrou3i, a public-private partnership between USAID, the Italian Cooperation, the HP Foundation and UNIDO.
Jamel joined an HP LIFE workshops from Mashrou3i, which enabled him to validate his business model. With the support of an HP LIFE coach he was able to finalize his business plan and to secure a loan of 25,000 Tunisian Dinars from the BTS (Tunisian Bank of Solidarity). In May 2016, he officially launched his aluminium carpentry business, Itkan Alu.
Since the launch of Itkan Alu, Jamel has taken his role as an entrepreneur very seriously and methodically applied the business concepts and managerial skills he acquired through the HP LIFE e-learning courses.
“I especially liked the HP LIFE marketing courses,” remarks Jalel. “I use these everyday in the planning and growth of my business.”
Today the number of aluminium carpentries has doubled in the region, so it is essential for Jalel to innovate and make sure his business stands out from the competition.
“Right now, alongside my aluminium carpentry, I’m working on the creation of store to supply raw materials for about 50 small resellers in the region,” he explains. “Currently they purchase these materials from Tunis at a very high price. I’m also diversifying my products with the manufacture of aluminium conveyors, medication trolleys and fixtures and fittings for clinics and pharmacies."
Thanks to Mashrou3i, Jalel will also benefit from technical assistance and technical training to enable him to overcome the challenges in achieving his goals.