USAID’s Business Reform and Competitiveness project (USAID BRCP) provides technical support to small and medium enterprise to facilitate economic growth in Tunisia. Recently, it worked with ENDA, Tunisia’s largest microenterprise organization, to enable its members to qualify for credit and help with their business needs. Oftentimes, it is difficult for women to enter the formal sector without meeting certain legal requirements. BRCP’s training was catalytic in helping these women overcome regulatory hurdles. Overall, USAID BRCP has trained 233 women entrepreneurs throughout the country, of which 133 have already received ENDA loans, and as a result, have been able to start their businesses. This is the story of one recent training participant.
I have studied multimedia and I have always wanted to be independent and have my own business. I have noticed that the kids in my neighborhood spend their free time playing on the streets, which can be dangerous. One day I was talking to my mother about those kids and I had the idea to open a small computer and Internet center. I had also the perfect location: my parents’ home. It is located near two schools and there is extra space to open the center.
My next steps were to get a loan and attend training sessions about how to open your own business—what legal steps to follow. I had the loan from ENDA, the largest micro-credit organization in Tunisia. USAID, through its Business Reform and Competitiveness Project, provided me the necessary training and assistance to qualify for start-up financing. The project provides assistance to women entrepreneurs so that they can qualify for loans.
The economic empowerment made me more confident about myself and what I can and can’t do. This success gives me the strength to go further, pursue my dream and make a small change.
My next steps are to develop new activities like printing wedding invitations, business cards, and brochures. I also want to open a preparatory school for kids (4 and 5 years old). To implement these new activities, I will hire a new staff, since the actual staff is only my mother and me. I will at least need three people, and by hiring them, I hope to contribute to finding a solution for employment. Maybe those jobs will allow these employees to become economically independent, too.
My life has changed since I opened the center and the life of my family, my neighbors and even the teachers of the schools nearby has changed, too. The neighbors now leave their kids in the center and they know they are safe with me and learning something new—not playing dangerously on the streets. The teachers told me that the kids now come to class prepared since they have done their research in the center.
This small center allows me to be economically independent. This independence is empowering. I am following my dream and doing something good for my neighborhood and my community. The reward is double!