With nearly 30 years’ experience, Lotfi Memni is the proud founder of Top Cuisine, a kitchen and storage manufacturer that employs 18 people in the region of Kairouan. Today, like many successful entrepreneurs in Tunisia, Lotfi benefits from the support of Mashrou3i, which has already helped him access finance and expand the business.
"Since my childhood, carpentry has been a part of my life, like a destiny,” said Lotfi. “During the summer I did work experience and my very first job was helping a carpenter in our neighbourhood. This is where my passion began."
In 1976, when he had to choose a professional training course at school, Lotfi naturally chose carpentry. After studying 3 years he gained a degree in carpentry and started his own business, which failed to take off.
In 1990, Lotfi seized the opportunity to move to Italy. Through intermittent jobs he quickly learned to speak Italian and used the opportunity to strengthen his carpentry skills. He learned advanced woodworking techniques that he hadn’t seen in Tunisia and feeling empowered, in 1995 he returned home to apply the knowledge and skills he had acquired.
"Italy was a source of innovation for me and the trigger of a new vision of work,” explained Lotfi. “Despite feeling settled there, I wanted to give my native country a chance and build up something for future generations. The return was not simple. But in Italy, I understood that you succeed by the strength and quality of your work."
Upon his return to Kairouan, Lotfi resumed his carpentry activities and gave 110 percent of himself to ensure the success of his business. In 2004, many orders were coming in but Lotfi had new ambitions and wanted to develop his business. After visiting an exhibition fair in Italy, he discovered modular kitchen furniture and realized that this sector had high-potential for achieving success. Top Cuisine was born in 2008.
Over time the company acquired new machines and expanded its activities. In 2017, Lotfi Memni received the technical assistance of the Mashrou3i project, organized by UNIDO and financed by USAID, the Italian Cooperation and the HP Foundation, which helped him to obtain a credit of 60,000 Tunisian Dinars from the Italian Credit Line.
Today, Top Cuisine has a production capacity of 25 kitchens per month and is the only producer of kitchens using the new generation of hinges in Tunisia. With the ongoing support of the Mashrou3i team, Lotfi is currently preparing his company’s expansion with the construction of a warehouse and the acquisition of ISO certification. He plans to recruit 3 additional people for administration and 2 workmen. To help achieve his goals, he will also benefit from the technical assistance of the Mashrou3i expert in marketing, communication and market access to strengthen his marketing strategy.
"We’re starting to see the benefits of Mashrou3i’s technical assistance and we hope to continue being supported in our various stages of expansion and development," said Lotfi.
"Since I created Top Cuisine, I have given more importance to quality and know-how,” he said. “I have invested in high-performance machines, I use the best hinges on the European market, and I offer young graduates the chance to prove their skills and find a place in the professional world."