This Woman Is Building Products to Encourage Tunisians to Use Public Spaces
This article was developed by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and published here with the approval of UNIDO.
In April 2013, Khouloud Jarraya and her father founded the family business SOTUFER, a company based in Kairouan, Tunisia, that produces a wide range of steel pieces for construction.
Jarraya invested in the family business while she was still studying Business English at the University of Languages in Kairouan. “I got involved very early with my father in launching the family business,” she said. “First in the development of the business plan, then for the construction work of the factory in the industrial zone, and finally, once the project was launched, for the daily management.”
After graduating, she moved to Tunis with her husband and started managing the sale of SOTUFER products. Today the company has eight permanent jobs and is expanding its range of activities with the creation of the TUNISIE Parc brand. The company now also specializes in the production of metal playgrounds, public sports equipment, fitness trail equipment, public tables, and benches for municipalities, prisons, and the army.
“I have been involved in all stages of SOTUFER’s creation, including its expansion that responds to a need felt all over the country, both by young people and adults who cannot find spaces for entertainment,” Jarraya said.
Jarraya was still a student when she discovered the HP LIFE e-Learning online training, leveraged by the Mashrou3i program. The Mashrou3i program, organized by UNIDO in partnership with USAID, the Italian Cooperation, and the HP Foundation, is designed to foster a spirit of entrepreneurship and offer tools that support fledgling business owners. Its mission is to create some 6,000 jobs and reach more than 25,000 aspiring and existing entrepreneurs in Tunisia over the next five years. In addition to mentoring and technical skills training, participants have access to HP LIFE , a free, online program of the HP Foundation, which features 27 interactive modules covering business and IT skills training in seven languages.
Through the training, Khouloud strengthened her IT and business skills. “I was a student and I did not have any professional experience yet,” she said “The HP LIFE training enabled me to apply basic rules in the management of my project and to acquire the necessary skills for my new position on our brand TUNISIE Parc. Three courses particularly helped me: Using social media marketing to grow your business, Learn how to sell online, and How to better manage your customer relationships. I often come back to these courses and I advise new aspiring entrepreneurs to do those exercises online and then simply apply them to their projects.”
Jarraya learned to solve the challenges she faced in her day-to- day management responsibilities and in her new role as marketing manager. She now feels ready to run the business after her father’s retirement.
“Today we are the first Tunisian company to produce outdoor play equipment for children such as swings, slides, and public benches,” she said. “We are going in the right direction, it is a choice to encourage young people and also adults to use public spaces for rest or sport. My main challenge is to successfully communicate about our new innovative products. With the support of HP LIFE e-Learning I have acquired the skills that help me to do that.”