Thanks to the Mashrou3i project, Anis Assali overcame the challenges he faced as a new business owner. Now he has two employees and a successful business.
More than a year after graduating in Aerospace Engineering at the University of Tunis, Anis Assali had still not found a job. He decided to move back to his hometown of Le Kef where he spotted a gap in the market that gave him the opportunity to establish a business and create his own employment.
Although Tunisia is an energy-dependent country, electricity generated from renewable energy is still not widespread. Recognizing the huge potential of solar energy and wind power, and drawing on his engineering knowledge, Anis established Assali Electricité et Energie, a ‘green’ business that sells and installs solar panels.
Like many new small business owners, Anis soon came up against some business realities he hadn’t anticipated. “Something that I thought would be a competitive advantage—the fact that there was no one else in the solar panel market—actually proved to be a challenge,” he said. Because there was no precedent in the region, he found it hard to convince potential clients about the value of solar panels in terms of energy conservation and environment preservation.
This also meant there was a lack of people with the specialized skills Anis’ business required, so Anis had to dedicate extra time to train his staff. “Because my ability to ramp-up was slow, this affected my sales, which then meant I could hardly cover my costs,” he explains. “My business quickly got into trouble.” HP LIFE helped Anis to tackle these and other challenges.
“HP LIFE’s marketing module opened my eyes to the need to clearly define my ‘unique value proposition’ to clients,” he says. “I had to make sure they clearly understood the many business benefits and cost-savings of investing in solar panels.
“By taking the course I learned how to develop a new promotional message that focused on my strengths, relative to the competition in the market,” he says. The HP LIFE marketing module also gave Anis the skills to develop an entirely new communication plan—including brochures, a business Facebook site, business cards and signage—to deliver this message.
“In addition, HP LIFE’s finance module taught me how to negotiate better prices and sales conditions with my suppliers,” says Anis. “For example, today my solar equipment supplier is contracted to deliver equipment directly to the client, instead of to my company, saving me both transportation and insurance costs.
“I also learned how to use Microsoft Excel to determine the break-even point of my business; and how to analyze my expenses which has enabled me to better estimate my real costs. HP LIFE helped me in virtually every aspect of my business.”
Today, Anis’ business is not only surviving—it’s thriving. In the past year he has gained three new clients, hired two new employees and revenue has increased by 10%. Business is so good, Anis has plans to expand his services to include solar water heating systems.