Houyem Hafsi is a motivated and confident young woman from the region of Tozeur. Guided by her ambitions, in February 2017 she launched El Houyem Noyal Coffee in Nefta, a company producing a coffee based on dates, which already employs 6 people.
"The idea came to me many years ago, we were already enjoying the date beverage here in Nefta,” said Houyem. “Rich in fibres and minerals, it is often consumed by people who don’t want or can’t drink caffeine. It also regulates cholesterol and tension and helps with weight loss. Seeing the potential of the product, I wanted to launch a business around it, making improvements and innovations to ensure my date coffee is unique."
In 2015, Houyem graduated as a superior technician in distribution logistics in Tunis. She then started working at Rades in a port storage company and pursued her career with some professional experiences in Tunis before returning to her hometown of Nefta.
"When I came back from Tunis in 2016, I was sure of my project and I knew exactly what I wanted. I immediately started to consolidate my knowledge of the field in a training center for the development of dates in Degueche, then I did a more technical training to master the use of the grinding machines."
In April 2016, Houyem took part in the CEFE training, which was the first step to making her project idea a reality. She became aware of the various stages of business creation and certification procedures. Very quickly, she submitted her credit application to the BTS (Tunisian Bank of Solidarity) to acquire financing of up to 10,000 Tunisian Dinars, supplemented by self-funding of 16,000 Tunisian Dinars.
"I plan to purchase a machine for packaging which costs 27,000 Tunisian Dinars and will be subsidized by GIZ," explains Houyem.
In 2017, Houyem met a member of the HP LIFE team, part of the Mashrou3i Project, organized by UNIDO and funded by USAID, the Italian Cooperation and the HP Foundation. "After completing the 27 HP LIFE e-Learning online courses, I attended an HP LIFE group coaching session in Djerba, which strengthened my managerial skills and improved my communication and sales techniques."
"I believe in my project and its innovation,” said Houyem. “I know my weaknesses and my strengths and that I need to improve my sales, market access and advertising and communication techniques. Thanks to Mashrou3i, I hope to achieve this goal."
Alongside the creation of her company and the strengthening of her skills, Houyem carried out product research and development for nearly a year. This enabled her to decide on her dosages and perform various tests to perfect the combination of different flavours she was looking for to innovate her product, including ginger, cardamom and cinnamon.
"Today, I am motivated to expand my market to other regions, especially to Tunis where the product is still very new,” explains Houyem. “I tried to contact several distribution channels in the capital, so far without success, but I will not stop there. I know my efforts will pay off in the future."