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New ideas for a traditional craft

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New ideas for a traditional craft

My name is Mariem. I’m 29 years old and married with a daughter. I’d like to be a role model for her just like my mother is for me. I learned weaving from my mother when I was a child, and this gave me the basis to start a business later on. I got help with this from the project “Agripreneur”.

I come from El Kef, which is a town in north-western Tunisia. Even early on, the weaving loom played a major role in my life. My mother used it to provide for the family, because my father died when I was just nine years old. I was the oldest child so I helped my mother with her work, and now she’s helping me with my business. We women are there for each other.

Mariem at a loom

Natural wool from the region

After school I studied French, but I couldn’t use my degree to find a suitable job. So once again I helped my mother, and improved my weaving skills. Then something struck me: all the weaving mills near us got their wool from far away. They travelled for hours and spent a lot of money to get it. I wanted to be the solution to this problem. So I decided to process and sell the untreated wool myself – all in organic quality using natural dyes. My motto is to provide quality at a reasonable price.

The “Agripreneur” project helped me to put my ideas into practice. It teaches young people from rural regions of Tunisia about starting a business. I learned about it on Facebook, and found out more when the project was presented at an information stand in El Kef. And eventually I applied for funding.

Mariem (left) and her mother

Coaching and advanced training

It offered exactly the kind of help that I needed. Taking part meant I had a coach who advised me on how I could develop my project idea. I took part in lots of advanced training in market research and marketing, for example. I also learned how to create a business plan and calculate my budget.

The “Agripreneur” project also helped me financially. This meant that I could buy two sewing machines, as well as equipment for dyeing the wool and furnishings for my studio. In addition to the wool, I also sell woven products like Kilim rugs under my label “Margoum décoration intérieure”. I now have four female employees and want to expand my business. It means I can create both jobs and high-quality goods in my region. And I’m continuing our traditional handicraft.

As of 03/2021

The “Agripreneur” project offered exactly the sort of help that I needed.

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