Sharing a Passion for Empowering Women in STEM: A WES Trainer’s Perspective

TW Breakout

Guest post by Dalel Krichen, Director of WES Optima Syphax Center in Sfax. This post was written in response to a World Cafe breakout session she attended as a part of the TechWomen Delegation Trip to Tunisia in March 2015. Delegation members met with WES trainers during the Social Media for Women Entrepreneurs Training of Trainers (TOT).

Since my tender age, I was fascinated by bridges, highways and skyscrapers. My dream was to design, construct and operate infrastructures and buildings. As I grew up, this dream became a goal. My favorite subjects were mathematics and physics and I wanted to use what I learned to solve real world problems. Therefore, I decided to become a civil engineer. No need to say that construction in Tunisia was a male-dominated industry and I did not get much support from my friends who tried to dissuade me away from the field and talked about the barriers tech women faced!

But, I worked hard, got a scholarship and went to the U.S. to study civil engineering. When I got my first job in Tunisia, I was the only woman engineer and I had to work on sites. It was very challenging not only trying to gain acceptance by the group but mainly to make the rules, innovate and secure a leading place in the company. As I was climbing the ladder to top positions, I felt the need to support women to enroll in scientific and technical fields. Indeed, female students in Tunisia account for 60% of the overall number of students, graduate at a much higher rate and with a much higher score than their fellow male students. But, the rate of female students in STEM fields remains very low. That’s why I decided to conduct an awareness campaign among girls in high schools to urge them to choose technical fields and I organized summer camps for the outstanding students on the theme “women and technology: learn to love it.”

When I was asked to join the WES team I was thrilled. The program puts a great emphasis on specialties related to new technologies needed in the job market. As we were urged to make a special effort to involve women in technology, I was very excited to fulfill a dear dream –increase the visibility of tech women by helping them create their own enterprises and thus promote female role models in the country.

We had the pleasure to host the delegation of TechWomen. They arrived as we were undertaking a TOT about social media which unveiled to us the power of networking which allows women entrepreneurs to create more opportunities and boost their talents in a way sometimes never expected. So all of us were in the mood to really acknowledge technology and we were looking forward to the breakout discussions with the members of the guest group.

As Samia introduced the exchange program and its objectives, I was very impressed by the goals and the opportunities offered to women. I found the professional mentorship, which is part of the program,very inspiring because it offers a valuable opportunity to support women in STEM fields. In many countries, talents are not encouraged and the lack of women mentors in technical fields makes it difficult for emerging tech women to promote themselves.

The breakout discussion about e-commerce, social media, innovation and risk taking for the developing of businesses using technology and marketing engaged us in an open discussion where we shared experiences, best practices and view points.We loved having the perspective and input of the mentors and we thank them for their guidance and advice.

It is heartening to notice that even though women in the delegation are from different parts of the world with different backgrounds and walks of life, they all share the same passion for technology and for the need to empower women in STEM fields. I couldn’t help noticing the spark in their eyes when they spoke about their careers which made me relate to them on a personal level.

To conclude, I would like to say that Tunisia is in need of more scientists and engineers. The TechWomen visit was memorable because it raised our awareness, as a WES team, for the need to empower tech women start-ups. It was also a good opportunity for brainstorming to find new ways and initiatives to get more women involved in successful tech projects.

Dalel KrichenDalel Krichen is a civil engineer and graduated from Washington University in Saint Louis. She worked as a head of the Department of Civil Building in the Ministry of Equipment and Habitat in Sfax before being the general manager of a construction company. She is also a former Member of Parliament, former general secretary of the Board of Tunisian Engineers in Sfax and Deputy Mayor in charge of the Commission of Infrastructure, Management and Construction in the city of Sfax.

Dalel has championed the cause of women’s empowerment and political participation. She works to integrate gender equality in institutions, programs and laws. She set various programs to encourage female students to choose technical fields and help young women engineers to get jobs and succeed in their careers.

Dalel is also the Director of WES Optima Syphax Center, where she provides trainings in leadership, home-based business, entrepreneurship and e-commerce . She works closely with women to help them achieve economic self-sufficiency.

Dalel is married and the mother of two daughters.


E-Commerce in Tunisia: Reflections from a TechWomen Mentor

TechWomen Mentor Marie Carter leaded group discussion on e-commerce

TechWomen Mentor, Marie Carter, leading a group discussion on e-commerce during the WES Social Media for Women Entrepreneurs TOT

“In Tunisia we can’t sell our products online.” This is what I learned when leading a discussion group on e-commerce in Tunisia during the Women’s Enterprise for Sustainability (WES) Social Media for Women Entrepreneurs Training of Trainers (TOT) meeting last week. I anticipated sitting down with a group of trainers to discuss best practices on setting up an online store, branding, configuring shipping, etc., but instead the topic turned to the current challenges Tunisian entrepreneurs face in selling online. Due to the closed currency in Tunisia*, entrepreneurs will be blocked from selling goods on the internet until the government restructures its banking system and removes restrictions on the dinar. This fact made our discussion of e-commerce take a different, yet fruitful turn. There are many best practices that can be applied to e-commerce as well as to marketing a brick and mortar store, which is what many of the WES entrepreneurs are currently doing. Here are some highlights from our discussion:

  • Tell a story: Every product has a story. Whether it’s the story of how the maker crafted the product, the product’s meaning in a local culture, or a historical reference, every object tells a tale. It’s these stories that help buyers connect with products and brands. Consumers often want to understand not only what the product is, but why it has meaning. Make sure to always tell the story of your products, through your website, catalog or in personal interactions with prospective customers.
  • Photography is key: Your products are beautiful in real life, so they should look great in photos! Photograph each item individually or perhaps together in a scene showing how it’s used. Photographs help connect your audience with the product and allow them to imagine how they would use it in their lives. Photographs are an essential part of selling products online, and can be used to advertise in local media or in your store catalog.
  • Help people find you: The internet is a big place with lots of stuff to buy. You want to make sure that people can find your products easily and quickly. It’s important to host your products using an online store or website that is searchable, and preferably has filtering options so buyers can narrow down what they are looking for. Also use words in your product descriptions that you think people may use in a search. If you’re selling out of a store, organize your products in a way that helps your customers easily find what they are looking for.
  • Connect your customers: Consumers want to hear from other customers before they buy. By publicly sharing reviews from other buyers, you can help new prospects see what others love about your products. Reviews give your brand credibility and effectively help people ‘try before they buy’ online.

It’s apparent that Tunisia has work to do before local entrepreneurs can reap the full benefits of e-commerce, but it must be done. In 2014, sellers using Etsy, a popular e-commerce platform, generated sales of $1.39 billion USD, up 43.3% from 2013. The demand for Tunisian products is out there and Tunisian entrepreneurs are ready to sell. In the meantime, local business owners should begin applying these and other best practices to their physical stores so they are ready when the barriers to e-commerce are removed.

About Marie:

prof (2)Marie is a Technical Support Engineer at Yahoo in San Francisco, CA. She served as a TechWomen Professional Mentor in 2014 and attended the 2015 TechWomen Delegation trip to Tunisia. Marie has a B.A. in International Studies and is thrilled to combine her passions for new technologies and inter-cultural communication to support women across the globe. LinkedIn:

*As a closed currency, the Tunisian Dinar (TND) is not allowed to be imported or exported from the country. Additionally, there are strict limitations to its convertibility. “Tunisian Activists Launch ‘Where is Paypal” Campaign” by Jeremy Fryd, January 13, 2015.

2nd Round of WES Business Award Winners Announced!

WES Business Award Poster - 3 2 2015

WES is pleased to announce the 21 Tunisian women entrepreneurs who will receive the second round of WES Business Awards. The winners are emerging and established women entrepreneurs who have benefited from training and coaching at seven WES Centers for Women’s Business Development across Tunisia, including Gafsa, Kairouan, Sfax, Sousse, Tunis and Zarzis. The winners will receive seed funds to help them launch or expand businesses. Stay tuned for photos of the winners in future posts and on Facebook.

Profiles of the WES Business Award winners are listed by WES Center:

Association de Continuité des Générations (ACG), Sfax

Dalel DERBEL – Lab Complement
Dalel is a biological engineer whose creativity and desire to use her life sciences knowledge to help others motivated her to become an entrepreneur. She started a business, called Lab Complement, that specializes in the sale of high-value extracts from organic material for use in pharmaceutical, cosmetic and food products. The WES Business Award will help her to build a website and market her first product, called “Tunioleuropein,” a therapeutic element extracted from the leaves of olive trees.

Nihel REJEB – Aromessence
After her university studies, and with the encouragement of her family, Nihel started a business producing essential oils, floral waters and massage oils for export. Her products are 100% natural and have both cosmetic and medical benefits. Nihel plans to use the WES Business Award funds to buy raw material in bulk for her products.

Noura DJEBBI – Noor Design
Noura had the forward-thinking idea to launch a communications and marketing consultancy, a nascent yet growing field in Tunisia. Noura plans to use the award funds to expand her business by diversifying the services offered.

Association pour le Développement Durable et la Coopération Internationale (ADDCI), Zarzis

Auiti RAJA – Centre de Beauté
With extensive experience in aesthetics, Auiti decided that it was time to be her own boss and founded a business providing a variety of services that promote personal well-being. With the WES Business Award, she plans to expand her business by offering new services and hiring several employees.

Nadia SAHBANI – Espace Lina pour Robes de Mariage
Nadia has 15 years of experience designing and making wedding dresses, evening gowns and children’s clothing. With the award, Nadia will increase her stock of raw material to satisfy the increased demand for her summer collection.

Moudifa RHOUMA
With a technical diploma in electrical engineering and professional experience in the field of new technologies, Moudifa recently launched an information technology services business. Moudifa will use the award funds to purchase equipment for her new office space.

Association de Développement Gafsa Sud (ADGS), Gafsa

Torkia SAIDI – Société Solidarité
Torkia is a skilled weaver and launched a business making decorative wall pieces over 10 years ago. With the goal of reaching an international audience, Torkia plans to use the WES Business Award to expand her business through export and offer a wider selection of products.

Nedia AOUNE – Société Hayet Design
Nedia learned the art of margoum, a traditional carpet from the region of Gafsa, from family members at a young age. She now has 22 years of experience in this handicraft and owns her own business. Nedia will use the award money to buy new equipment and raw material.

Dahbia owns a business making carpets and drapes and building furniture. The WES Business Award will enable her to buy raw material in bulk.

Association NOOR pour le Développement Humain, Sousse

Basma earned a diploma in textiles and has 10 years of professional experience in the clothing industry. Two months ago, a charity gave her a sewing machine to start a home-based business. The WES Business Award will enable her to buy another sewing machine and raw material to expand her business.

Toffaha HAMDI
Toffaha plans to use her 17 years of experience in the henna industry to launch her own business. Toffaha will use the award funds to study new henna techniques and buy material necessary to launch her business.

For the past five years, Sarra has been making traditional Tunisian pastries from her home. With a recent increase in demand, her business now requires larger quantities of bulk ingredients. She is thankful that the WES Business Award will allow her to buy these ingredients and reduce her per unit cost.

Association Optima Syphax, Sfax

Hela has a university degree in business and recently launched an interior design company. Hela’s goal is to improve her production, diversify her product line and move her business to the formal sector. She believes that the recognition and funds from the WES Business Award will allow her to launch a marketing campaign and expand her product line as she works towards these larger goals.

Amel KHEMAKHEM – Céramista
Amel studied fine arts in university and launched her ceramics business, Céramista, over a year ago. With the funds from the award, Amel wants to further expand the visibility of her products by developing a new communications strategy and participating in local trade shows.

Hana CHAARI – Paradise School
With extensive experience providing English language training to diverse audiences, Hana wants to launch a training center. Hana has already received a loan from the Tunisian Solidarity Bank to buy the necessary equipment to start her business and plans to use the award funds to launch a marketing campaign.

Tunisian Association for Management and Social Stability (TAMSS), Tunis

Afef ABDELWAHED – Paramed Plus
Afef’s dream was to use her university degree in biology and her training in biotechnology to start a business providing in-home medical services. She launched her business in November 2014 and plans to use the award funds to expand her client base.

Saoussan REBAII – Mazélet El Barka
Saoussan wants to use her professional and leadership skills to launch a Senior Center that will offer opportunities for seniors to engage in society and provide services that promote active lifestyles. With the award funds, she will purchase the necessary equipment to launch the center.

Latifa CHANNOUFI – Palais de la Mariée
Latifa has more than six years of experience designing and making wedding dresses, and has a loyal customer base. For many years, Latifa has wanted to launch a business in this field, but lacked the finances to support such an endeavor. Thanks to the WES Business Award, her dream will become a reality.

Union National des Femmes Tunisiennes (UNFTK), Kairouan

Chadleya IDRISS – Toy Story
Chadleya started to make toys for her children when they were young using repurposed wood. This hobby enabled her to both provide fun and safe toys for her children during difficult financial times and protect the environment by using material that would otherwise have gone to waste. She has since dreamed of opening her own toy company and has conducted over three years of market research on the toy industry in Tunisia. Since she collects the material from many different sources, each toy she makes has its own story; hence, the name of her company, Toy Story. The award funds will partly finance a marketing campaign and help her to create personalized packaging.

Awatef SELMI – Toufa Haute Couture
Awatef learned the art of traditional Tunisian carpet-making from her family members when she was young and further developed her competencies in the textile sector under their mentorship. In her most recent job at a retail clothing store, Awatef gained negotiation, sales and acquisition skills. With these varied skills and expertise in sewing and fashion, she is now ready to launch her own haute couture business. The funds from the award will help her to work with a variety of distributers and participate in trade shows.

Chedlya BRIKI – Espace Chadou pour les Petites Filles
Chedlya recently completed a fashion course with the greater goal of opening a clothing business for young girls. Chedlya understands the strong buying power of families in Kairouan and believes this market has yet to be tapped. She plans to use the award to buy raw material and expand her product line.

Lauréates de la 2nde Série du Business Award WES Annoncées !

WES Business Award Poster - 3 2 2015Le Programme WES a le plaisir d’annoncer les 21 femmes entrepreneurs Tunisiennes qui recevront la deuxième série de Business Awards WES. Les lauréates sont des femmes entrepreneurs émergentes et établies qui ont bénéficié d’une formation dans huit centres WES à travers la Tunisie. Elles recevront de petites subventions pour les aider à lancer ou développer leurs entreprises. Les lauréates sont comprises d’entrepreneurs qui ont été formees aux Centres WES à Gafsa, Kairouan, Sfax, Sousse, Tunis, et Zarzis. Ne ratez pas les photos des lauréates sur Facebook.

Les profils des lauréates du Business Award WES sont répertoriés par centre WES:

Association de Continuité des Générations (ACG), Sfax

Dalel DERBEL – Lab Complement
Dalel est un ingénieur en Génie Biologique. Sa créativité et son désir d’utiliser son savoir pour le bien de la société, l’ont motivé à devenir une entrepreneure. Elle a créé sa propre société du nom de Lab Complement qui est spécialisée dans la vente de molécules à haute valeur ajoutée pour usage pharmaceutique, alimentaire et cosmétique. Les fonds du prix WES l’aideront à créer un site internet et à promouvoir son premier produit « Tunioleuropein », une molécule thérapeutique obtenue suite à une extraction liquide à partir de feuilles d’olivier.

Nihel REJEB – Aromessence
Suite à ses études et avec l’encouragement de sa famille, Nihel a décidé de travailler à son compte et devenir une entrepreneure. Nihel utilise sa passion pour la nature à travers son entreprise qui produit des huiles essentielles, eaux florales et huiles de massage. Ses produits, 100% naturels, ont un usage cosmétique et pharmaceutique. Avec les fonds du prix WES, elle compte acheter des matières premières en gros. Les produits créés sont destinés à l’exportation.

Noura DJEBBI – Noor Design
Noura avait une vision pour un projet et voulait avoir sa propre agence de conseil en communication et publicité donc elle établit une entreprise à domicile, un concept qui n’est pas vraiment développé et reconnu en Tunisie. Noura souhaite élargir son marché et va intégrer une option pour un design personnalisé avec les fonds du prix WES.

Association pour le Développement Durable et la Coopération Internationale (ADDCI), Zarzis

Auiti RAJA – Centre de Beauté
Avec à son extensive expérience dans le domaine esthétique, Auiti a décidé qu’il était temps de se mettre à son compte et devenir une entrepreneure indépendante. Avec les fonds WES, elle souhaite élargir son entreprise qui se concentre sur le bien-être à travers divers services esthétiques. De plus, elle désire aider sa région économiquement en employant des chômeurs.

Nadia SAHBANI – Espace Lina pour Robes de Mariage
Nadia a 15 ans d’expérience dans le domaine de création de robes de mariées, soirées et vêtements pour enfants. En 2006, elle a organisé un défilé de mode qui a été télévisé. Avec les fonds WES, elle va accroitre son stock en matière première afin de répondre à la demande pour tenues d’été.

Moudifa RHOUMA
Avec un diplôme de technicienne en électricité et une expérience dans le domaine des nouvelles technologies, Moufida a décidé de conquérir le domaine des affaires et lancer son projet de services informatiques et bureautiques. Pour consolider son projet elle a besoin de se procurer deux ordinateurs, deux bureaux et un scanner. Les fonds WES lui serviront pour financer une partie de ses achats.

Association de Développement Gafsa Sud (ADGS), Gafsa

Torkia SAIDI – Société Solidarité
Torkia a lancé son entreprise il y a plus de 10 ans maintenant et souhaite s’établir à l’échelle nationale et internationale. Elle se spécialise dans le tissage de pièces murales décoratives. Avec le prix WES, elle pourra élargir son entreprise et offrir un plus grand nombre de sélection pour ses murales.

Nedia AOUNE – Societe Hayet Design
Nedia a appris le métier de tissage de Margoum, un tapis traditionnel de Gafsa, à un très jeune âge. Avec 22 ans d’expérience dans ce domaine, elle compte élargir son commerce et utiliser le prix WES afin d’acheter plus d’équipements et de matière première.

Dahbia a plus de 20 ans d’expérience dans la création de Margoum, un tapis traditionnel. En plus des Margoums, elle a aussi commencé à fabriquer des meubles et créer des rideaux. Le prix WES lui permettra d’acheter ses matières premières en gros.

Association NOOR pour le Développement Humain, Sousse

En plus d’un diplôme professionnel en textile, Basma à 10 ans d’expérience dans le domaine de la confection. Il y a 2 mois une organisation de charité lui a offert une machine à coudre pour démarrer son projet à domicile. Le prix WES sera une opportunité pour acheter une autre machine et de la matière première.

Toffaha HAMDI
Toffaha va utiliser ses 17 ans d’expérience dans le domaine de tatouages pour lancer son propre projet de production d’articles de tatouage. Le prix WES va lui servir pour acheter de la matière première et ajouter des nouvelles techniques afin d’atteindre un plus grand public.

Depuis 5 ans Sarra produit à domicile des pâtisseries traditionnelles comme la “Bessisa Tunisienne”. Grâce à une demande croissante, Sarra a besoin d’acheter plus de matière première. Le prix WES, lui permettra d’acheter cela en large quantité ce qui réduira le coût par unité.

Association Optima Syphax, Sfax

Hela est diplômée en commerce et possède sa propre entreprise qui e spécialise dans la décoration. Après une période de travail dans le secteur informel, Hela cherche à restructurer son projet. Son objectif est d’améliorer sa production et diversifier les produits pour toucher un plus grand public. Le prix WES lui aidera pour lancer une campagne publicitaire, élargir sa gamme de produits.

Amel KHEMAKHEM – Céramista
Après un parcours universitaire, Amel a obtenu son master en beaux-arts. Il y a un an, elle démarrait l’aventure Céramista dans la région de Sfax. Son rêve : de faire du coffret cadeau en céramique une véritable création. Amel cherche à promouvoir son produit à travers les réseaux sociaux et en participants aux foires à l’échelle locale. Les fonds WES lui permettront de développer son activité à travers l’achat de matière première pour pouvoir satisfaire une demande croissante.

Hana CHAARI – Paradise School
Avec une longue expérience dans le domaine de la formation en langue anglaise, Hana veut lancer un centre de formation dans la région de Sfax. Elle a déjà décroché un crédit de la Banque Tunisienne de Solidarité (BTS) afin d’acheter l’équipement nécessaire pour commencer son entreprise. Les fonds WES lui serviront à se faire connaitre au public à travers une campagne publicitaire.

Tunisian Association for Management and Social Stability (TAMSS), Tunis

Afef ABDELWAHED – Paramed Plus
A travers son entreprise, Afef souhaite exploiter ses connaissances en biologie et biotechnologie tout en aidant ses clients grâce à son service médical à domicile. Les fonds WES l’aideront à lancer son entreprise et à étendre sa clientèle.

Saoussan REBAII – Mazélet El Barka
Saoussan veut utiliser ses compétences professionnelles et de leardership pour créer un centre pour personnes âgées. Ce centre a pour but de promouvoir l’intégration des personnes âgées dans la communauté et avoir une vie active. Le centre, ouvert la journée, fournira des services santé, sociaux et de divertissement. Avec les fonds du prix WES, elle pourra lancer son centre et acheter l’équipement nécessaire à son ouverture.

Latifa CHANNOUFI – Palais de la Mariée
Avec plus de 6 ans d’expérience dans la confection de robe de mariées et une bonne base clientèle, Latifa est confidente que son entreprise sera prospère. Son seul obstacle est financier mais grâce aux fonds du prix WES, elle sera capable d’acheter le matériel nécessaire pour continuer sa passion.

Union National des Femmes Tunisiennes (UNFTK), Kairouan

Chadleya IDRISS – Toy Story
Animée par sa passion pour la nature, Chadleya a pu surmonter les difficultés qu’elle a rencontrées depuis son enfance. Elle a commencé à fabriquer les premiers jouets pour ses enfants en utilisant les déchets du bois ; une activité à travers laquelle elle a trouvé le plaisir de préserver la nature tout en appliquant le proverbe “rien ne se perd, tout se transforme”. Afin de concrétiser son rêve de lancer son propre projet de fabrication de jouets en bois, Chadleya a fait trois ans de recherche et de travail. Pendant ce temps, elle a pu développer ses compétences et inventer des jouets utiles qui impliquent l’enfant dans son environnement. Tout jouet qu’elle produit raconte une histoire d’où le nom de son projet Toy Story. Les fonds WES l’aideront à financer une partie de sa compagne marketing et à créer un emballage personnalisé portant le logo et informations sur sa société.

Awatef SELMI – Toufa Haute Couture
Awatef a commencé sa carrière par la fabrication de tapis traditionnels avec sa famille. Pendant ce temps, elle a pu développer ses compétences dans le domaine du textile. Sa dernière expérience était dans une boutique de prêt à porter où elle a appris les techniques de négociation, d’achat et de vente. Awatef a une formation en modélisme et confection et veut lancer un projet en haute couture. Les fonds WES lui seront utiles pour diversifier ses circuits de distributions et participer à des foires et des salons d’expositions.

Chedlya BRIKI – Espace Chadou pour les Petites Filles
Chadliya a récemment suivi une formation en modélisme pour réaliser son rêve de devenir une femme d’affaire dans le domaine de la couture. Son projet “chadou pour les petites filles” sera unique de son genre à Kairouan. Elle veut créer des modèles de vêtements originaux pour filles qui prennent en considération le pouvoir d’achat des familles. Le prix WES va servir à lancer ses nouveaux produits.

WES s’élargit!

L’Entreprise Feminines Durables/Women’s Enterprise for Sustainability (WES), est heureuse d’annoncer le lancement de cinq nouveaux Centres WES pour le développement des entreprises féminines à Béja, Bizerte, Le Kef, Tozeur et Tataouine! Avec cette expansion, WES prend désormais en charge des femmes entrepreneures à travers 13 centres dans 11 régions de la Tunisie. L’expansion a été annoncée aujourd’hui lors une conférence de presse à Tunis. L’équipe WES et ses partenaires ont eu le privilège d’accueillir des invités de marque: Mr. Richard Michaels, Conseiller Politique et Economique à l’Ambassade des Etats-Unis d’Amérique en Tunisie ; et Mme Neila Chaabane, Secrétaire d’Etat pour la Femme et la Famille.

Le programme Entreprises Féminines Durables (WES) élargit son soutien aux femmes entrepreneures à cinq nouvelles régions

21 janvier 2015, Tunis — L’Entreprises féminines durables/ Women’s Enterprise for Sustainability (WES), grâce au financement généreux du gouvernement des Etats Unis d’Amérique annonce le lancement de cinq nouveaux Centres WES pour le développement des entreprises féminines à Béja, Bizerte, Le Kef, Tozeur et Tataouine. Avec son expansion pour inclure cinq nouvelles régions, le programme prend désormais en charge des femmes entrepreneures à travers 13 centres dans 11 régions de la Tunisie.

Le programme de l’Entreprises féminines durables offre de la formation, des programmes d’encadrement et du soutien financier aux organisations partenaires leur permettant de créer de nouveaux centres pour le développement des entreprises féminines en utilisant un modèle d’entreprise sociale. En imposant des frais nominaux pour la formation et les services, les organisations partenaires récupèrent une partie de leurs coûts d’exploitation, augmentent leur propre durabilité et étendent leur portée tout en soutenant les femmes entrepreneures dans leurs communautés.

« Ce qui est vraiment important », explique Afef Zaddem, Directeur du Centre WES à l’Union nationale des femmes tunisiennes, Kairouan, « c’est que le programme de l’Entreprise féminine durable renforce nos capacités. Il est en train de transformer nos ONG de bénévoles en des organisations professionnelles ».

Les Centres WES offrent aux femmes entrepreneures en devenir et chevronnées et celles qui aspirent à le devenir des formations et du coaching sur le développement d’entreprise à un prix abordable. Les centres facilitent également l’accès à des experts, des mentors et des services financiers qui soutiennent les femmes entrepreneures dans le lancement et le développement de leurs propres entreprises. Ils offrent des services de formation et de soutien aux entreprises à différents niveaux – élémentaire, intermédiaire et avancé – pour mieux répondre aux besoins des femmes de différents milieux scolaires.

« Dans un tel moment délicat de l’histoire tunisienne, nous voulons que notre présent et avenir soient façonnés par les hommes et les femmes qui génèrent de la richesse et créent de l’emplois. WES encourage les femmes de tous les milieux à rêver et réaliser leurs rêves. En créant des opportunités économiques pour les femmes, nous contribuons aussi à l’établissement de bases d’une société stable et prospère », affirme Chéma Gargouri, Pays Directeur WES.

« Le programme WES encourage l’innovation et l’entrepreneuriat à la fois au niveau individuel et organisationnel. En soutenant des organisations partenaires locales à exploiter des centres comme des entreprises sociales, l’objectif est que les centres continuent à soutenir les femmes entrepreneures longtemps après la fin du programme », ajoute Julia Hendrickson, Directeur de programme, Entreprise féminine durable, Institute of International Education (IIE).

Le programme de l’Entreprises féminines durables est financé par le Gouvernement des Etats Unis d’Amérique à travers l’Initiative de Partenariat avec le Moyen Orient du Département d’Etat américain. Cette initiative a été conçue par le Centre des initiatives de leadership féminin de l’Institut de l’Education Internationale (Institute of International Education) à San Francisco. Il est géré par une équipe à Tunis et à San Francisco et est mis en œuvre en collaboration avec 13 organisations de la société civile locale.

Les Organisations tunisiennes partenaires WES

Les Partenaires WES depuis 2012

Association pour le développement du Sud de Gafsa (ADGS Gafsa)
Kairouanais pour la culture de la citoyenneté (KPCC Kairouan)
Union nationale des femmes tunisiennes (UNFT Kairouan)
Association de la continuité des générations (ACG Sfax)
Optima Syphax (Sfax)
Association NOOR pour le développement humain (ANDH Sousse)
Association tunisienne de gestion et de stabilité sociale (TAAMS Tunis)
Association du développement durable et de la coopération internationale à Zarzis (ADDCI Zarzis)

Les Nouveaux partenaires WES depuis 2014

Association Horizons Kef pour le Développement Intégral (AHKDI Kef)
Jeunesse et du Développement (J&D Béja)
La Ruche de La Citoyenneté Active à Tozeur (La Ruche Tozeur)
NOOR Tataouine (NOOR Tataouine)
Youth & Skills (Y&S Bizerte)

WES is expanding!

Women’s Enterprise for Sustainability (WES) is thrilled to announce the launch of five new Centers for Women’s Business Development in Beja, Bizerte, El Kef, Touzeur and Tataouine!  With this expansion, WES now supports women entrepreneurs through 13 Centers across 11 regions of Tunisia. The expansion was announced at a press conference today in Tunis. At the event, the WES team and partners were honored to be joined by distinguished guests Mr. Richard Michaels, Political/Economic Counselor, US Embassy in Tunisia; and Mrs. Neila Chaabane, Tunisia’s Secretary of State for Women and Families.

Please look for upcoming posts about the new WES partners.

The Women’s Enterprise for Sustainability (WES) program is now in 11 regions across Tunisia

January 21, 2015, Tunis — The Women’s Enterprise for Sustainability (WES), with generous funding from the United States Government, announces the launch of five new Centers for Women’s Business Development in Beja, Bizerte, El Kef, Touzeur and Tataouine. With the expansion of the program to five new regions, the program now supports women entrepreneurs through 13 Centers across 11 regions of Tunisia.

The Women’s Enterprise for Sustainability program provides training, curricula and financial support to the partner organizations, enabling them to create new Centers for Women’s Business Development using a social enterprise model. By charging nominal fees for training and services, partner organizations recover some of their operating costs and increase their own sustainability and reach, while supporting women entrepreneurs in their communities.

“What is really important about the Women’s Enterprise for Sustainability program,” explains Afef Zaddem, WES Center Director at the National Union of Tunisian Women, Kairouan, “is that it builds our capacities. It is transforming our NGOs from volunteer-based to professional organizations.”

WES Centers provide aspiring, emerging and established women entrepreneurs affordable business development training and coaching. The Centers also facilitate access to experts, mentors and financial services that support women entrepreneurs to launch and grow businesses. They offer training and business support services at different levels – basic, intermediate and advanced – to best meet the needs of women with various educational backgrounds.

“At such a critical time in Tunisian history, we want our present and future to be shaped by men and women who create wealth and jobs. WES encourages women from all backgrounds to dream, and to reach for their dreams. By creating economic opportunities for women, we are also helping to build the foundation for a stable and prosperous society” says Chema Gargouri, WES Country Director.

“The WES program encourages innovation and entrepreneurialism at both the individual and organizational level. By supporting local partner organizations to operate Centers as social enterprises, the aim is for the Centers to continue supporting women entrepreneurs long after the program ends,” adds Julia Hendrickson, Program Director, Women’s Enterprise for Sustainability, Institute of International Education.

The Women’s Enterprise for Sustainability program in Tunisia is funded by the U.S. Government through the U.S. Department of State’s Middle East Partnership Initiative. The initiative was designed by the Institute of International Education’s Center for Women’s Leadership Initiatives in San Francisco. It is managed by a team in Tunis and San Francisco, implemented in collaboration with 13 local civil society organizations.

WES Tunisian Partner Organizations

Continuing WES Partners

Association for the Development of the South of Gafsa (ADGS Gafsa)
Kairouanians for the Culture of Citizenship (KPCC Kairouan)
National Union of Tunisian Women (UNFT Kairouan)
Association of Continuity of Generations (ACG Sfax)
Optima Syphax (Sfax)
The NOOR Association for Human Development (ANDH Sousse)
Tunisian Association for Management and Social Stability (TAMSS Tunis)
Association of Sustainable Development and International Cooperation in Zarzis (ADDCI Zarzis)

New WES Partners

Association Horizons Kef pour le Développement Intégral (AHKDI Kef)
Jeunesse et du Développement (J&D Béja)
La Ruche de La Citoyenneté Active à Tozeur (La Ruche Tozeur)
NOOR Tataouine (NOOR Tataouine)
Youth & Skills (Y&S Bizerte)

The Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) is a unique program designed to engage directly with and invest in the peoples of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). MEPI works to create vibrant partnerships with citizens to foster the development of pluralistic, participatory, and prosperous societies throughout the MENA region. To do this, MEPI partners with local, regional and international nongovernmental organizations, the private sector, academic institutions, and governments. More information about MEPI can be found at:

Institute of International Education’s Center for Women’s Leadership Initiatives

The Institute of International Education is a world leader in the international exchange of people and ideas. An independent, not-for-profit organization founded in 1919, IIE has a network of 19 offices worldwide and over 1,200 member institutions. IIE designs and implements educational and leadership training programs in 175 countries, impacting over 25,000 people annually. IIE’s San Francisco office houses the Institute’s Center for Women’s Leadership Initiatives, which provides opportunities for women worldwide to participate in cutting-edge professional development trainings and pursue higher education. Through the Center’s programs, women develop and join networks of peers and mentors and serve as innovative leaders in the public and private sectors around the world. More information about IIE can be found at

To learn more about WES, visit Facebook and Twitter. Look for the WES E-boutique on our new website at coming March 2015.

Empowering Women Entrepreneurs through Financial Management

Tarek Lamouchi, standing, during a Financial Education training

In preparation for the upcoming Financial Education Training of Trainers (TOT) next week in Tunis, the WES Financial Education Master Trainer, Tarek Lamouchi, reflects on what inspired him to enter this field and why financial education is important for women entrepreneurs.

For over six years I worked at Enda Inter-Arabe, a microfinance institution that is active throughout Tunisia, and much of my work focused on supporting women entrepreneurs. While working closely with entrepreneurs, I’ve noticed there is a general lack of knowledge about financial management. More specifically, I consistently see women entrepreneurs who do not set clear and realistic financial goals or set aside money for emergency situations. They have big dreams and high hopes for themselves and their children; however lack sufficient training to separate their household and business expenses or save adequately to make their dreams a reality.

I have found that training entrepreneurs requires concerted effort on the part of the trainer to break the ice and create a trusting environment. I believe that successful trainings are based on the following principles:

  1. Action Learning in which trainings are interactive and participants have the opportunity to apply the techniques and methods presented. This helps participants better understand and remember the tools and resources shared during the training.
  2. Building on the experience of the entrepreneur by creating an environment in which attendees have the opportunity to share their life experiences. My goal as a trainer is to build on the knowledge that already exists in the room. This creates a dynamic in which participants learn from one another, as well as the trainer, and are empowered by their knowledge and life experiences.

Certainly financial education alone cannot solve all of the challenges that women entrepreneurs face, however it is a great framework in which to begin to successfully organize finances and operate successful businesses.

Additional information about Tarek, and his professional experience and training can be found by visiting his LinkedIn page.

Pour des femmes entrepreneures qui savent gérer leur argent

En préparation pour la prochaine formation des formateurs (FDF) sur l’Education Financière qui pendra place à Tunis du 17 au 22 Janvier 2015, le formateur principal WES pour l’Education Financière, Tarek Lamouchi, partage ce qui l’a inspiré à entrer ce milieu et pourquoi il pense que l’éducation financière, particulièrement pour les femmes, est importante.

J’ai travaillé pendant plus de six ans à Enda Inter-Arabe, une institution de micro-finance active un peu partout en Tunisie, et pendant cette période je travaillais beaucoup avec des femmes entrepreneures.  Ce que j’ai remarqué en travaillant en étroite liaison avec les entrepreneures, c’est qu’elles ne savaient pas comment gérer leur argent. Ces femmes ont de grands rêves et de grands espoirs pour elles même et pour leurs enfants  mais elles ne savent pas comment séparer les dépenses du ménage de celle de l’entreprise ni comment épargner pour rendre ces rêves réels.

Former cette population cible nécessite un peu plus d’effort de la part du formateur pour briser la glace et créer une certaine confiance au sein du groupe. Pour moi, la meilleure technique en formation est basée sur deux grands principes:

  1. L’apprentissage par l’action, où les femmes micro-entrepreneures ne sont pas passives mais appliquent des techniques et des méthodes qu’elles voient au cours de la formation et donc apprennent et se rappellent exactement ce qu’elles ont appris. C’est une formation interactive pendant laquelle on ne s’ennuie pas.
  2. Se baser sur l’expérience des femmes entrepreneures: on oublie souvent que ces femmes, avec leurs expériences dans la vie ont énormément de connaissances et qu’elles ne sont pas conscientes de l’énorme savoir qu’elles ont. Un bon formateur est celui qui bâtit sur cette expérience pour offrir des nouvelles connaissances.

Certes, l’éducation financière à elle seule ne peut pas régler tous les problèmes des femmes entrepreneures, mais elle leur est d’une grande utilité et d’un grand appui pour commencer à organiser leur argent et leurs vies différemment.

Plus d’informations regardant Tarek et son expérience professionnelle peuvent être trouvées sur son profile LinkedIn.

WES: Leadership at the Service of Women’s Entrepreneurship

Rania El Ahmadi at the WES Leadership TOT

Last week, 26 trainers from 13 WES Centers gathered in Hammamet, Tunisia for a Leadership Training of Trainers (TOT) led by WES Master Trainer Ms. Ahlem Ghazouani.

The WES Leadership curriculum focuses on the following elements:

• Communication;
• Vision, purpose and strategy;
• Adaptation to the environment and creation of wealth and opportunities;
• Creativity and initiative; and
• Organizational and business management methodologies.

Rania El Ahmadi and Afaf Zaddem, two WES trainers who participated in the Leadership TOT, shared their individual reflections. Rania discusses the role of WES in helping her to become a leader, support women entrepreneurs and positively influence the development of Tunisia. Afaf focuses her reflection on the impact the training had on her personal and professional growth, as well as the importance of the WES Leaderships curriculum in supporting women entrepreneurs.

My WES Experience

In life, we always have the choice to become a leader, as no one is born a leader, but becomes one. Yes, we each become a leader; but the opportunity must be presented to become one. With WES, I had that chance. My adventure with this program began in June 2012 and, since then, I have seen my dreams come true, ambitions grow and professional status asserted.

Being a trainer has always attracted me. Even though I am an engineer, WES has allowed me to explore this skill and open new horizons with other organizations and institutions. I will always remember the day I had my interview to become a trainer/consultant with ANETI (National Agency for Employment and Independent Labor). I talked about my WES experience and all the important work we do as a part of the program. Personally, I consider the WES team like a family that has always given me the energy to move forward and give the best of myself for the betterment of women, society and Tunisia. And even if the training are limited in time, I have no doubt of the sustainability of the program’s goals and vision.

Thriving by helping others thrive, being fulfilled through the fulfillment of others, being a leader of one’s own life and career – that’s what I’ve experienced with WES. This program has allowed me to discover how one can grow with the help of, and through helping, others.

-Rania El Ahmadi

To what extent may we grow through a training program?

Ms. Ahlem Ghazouani’s talent as a coach, her personality and, particularly, her positive attitude during the WES Leadership training made it an unforgettable experience for me and one, “without which, I would not have taken the leap to carry out my personal mission of joy and pleasure while also inspiring women in my community to do the same.”

I have gained a lot from the training, especially in aligning my emotional and technical skills to advance my role as the director of, and a trainer at, the UNFT WES Center in Kairouan. The content and activities during the training imparted different methodological, strategic and communication skills and were transmitted in a fluid and dynamic manner.

The WES program model of planning a learning process and reinforcing the trainers’ capacities is a real strategic choice for the support of women entrepreneurs.

Finally, a nod to all the participants from the WES Centers in the 11 regions with whom I’ve shared moments of compassion and positive energy.

-Afaf Zaddem