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After struggling to find work, Jalel Echaybi turned to entrepreneurship. The Mashrou3i project helped him learn the skills he needed for business success.

In his workshop in Tataouine, Tunisian entrepreneur Jalel Echaybi is doing a final check on a customer order. “A few years ago, I didn’t image that I would be working in aluminum carpentry and would be leading a team of five employees,” says Jalel Echaybi.

After completing a degree in finance, Jalel had struggled to find a job. Determined to develop his career, in 2012 he 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 about importing products, logistics, furniture assembly, and even carpentry,” he says.

However, in 2014 the Libyan civil war broke out, putting an end to Jalel’s first professional experience but also marking the start of his path to entrepreneurship. After returning to his hometown of Tataouine, Jalel carried out research into the aluminum carpentry sector and grew confident about the idea of starting his own business. And luck was on his side—Tataouine was experiencing a boom in new housing construction.

Jalel contacted the Tataouine Business Center and completed the 21-day CEFE training which helped him develop his project idea. Encouraged by the Business Center director, Jalel enrolled in Mashrou3i—a public-private partnership between the United States Agency for International Development, the Italian Cooperation, the HP Foundation, and United Nations Industrial Development Organization—supporting entrepreneurs in Tunisia.

Through the project, Jalel joined an HP LIFE workshop which enabled him to solidify his business model. With the support of an HP LIFE coach, he finalized his business plan and secured a loan of 25,000 Tunisian Dinars from the BTS (Tunisian Bank of Solidarity). In May 2016, Jalel’s aluminum carpentry business—Itkan Alu—was officially launched.

Jalel takes his role as an entrepreneur very seriously and uses the business concepts and managerial skills he acquired through the HP LIFE courses. “I particularly liked the HP LIFE marketing courses,” says Jalel. “I use these every day in the planning and growth of my business.”

Today the number of aluminum carpentries in the region has doubled, so it is essential for Jalel to innovate and make sure his business stands out from the competition.

“Right now, alongside my aluminum carpentry, I’m developing a 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 by manufacturing aluminum conveyors, medicine 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 successfully overcome any challenges that may lie ahead.

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