A wonderful matching
- Impressions of Bouchra:
“Congratulations, you have been selected to join Ouissal’s program for the years 2019-2020”. To my joy, I got so excited. This is an amazing opportunity to meet professionals, learn new skills, grow my business, make my brand known, and also visit Germany.
My name is Bouchra Laouani Masrour and I am known as the Morrocan businesswoman in Tunisia; the founder of Bahia Cosmetic brand specialized in the extraction of vegetal oils and the manufacture of natural & organic personal hygiene products. And thanks to Ouissal’s precise selection, I got matched with a wonderful lady: Yvonne Jamal.
From the beginning, the exchange was fluid and we established a great understanding. We had a long conversation through which we spoke about my brand, my dreams, and the goals we would like to achieve as a team throughout this year. We shared creative ideas about ecological innovation and ways to integrate new technologies into my work. It was an everlasting discussion. We had so much in common, that it felt like meeting an old friend, a very dear soul mate.
Yvonne is so generous that she sacrificed most of her time lending me a hand to solve my problems at work and overcome my everyday challenges. During the isolation period, we made lots of video calls and she was a great moral support. She was always smiling, blooming with positive vibes.
The online webinars organized by Ouissal were also beyond my expectations. I had so much fun participating in very interesting training using new learning technologies. So big thanks to Clara Gruitrooy and Asma Hadj Mabrouk.
And a million thanks to Yvonne, an amazing woman who has marked my life and a dear soul mate whom I will always cherish and love.
- Impressions of Yvonne:
I was very pleased and incredibly honored to be accepted as a mentor in the Ouissal Program 2019/2020. I am chairwoman of the JARO Institute for Sustainability and Digitalization based in Berlin. From the very beginning, it was a matter of my heart to support other women on their career path. In preparation for the kick-off and on my way to Tunisia, I could hardly stand the tension of who would be my tandem partner.
Bouchra Laouani Masrour is an absolute winner. She is an entrepreneur through and through, and I was impressed from the start with what she has already built up. Her company produces natural cosmetics and distributes them in Kairouan in a beautiful store and internationally online. The enthusiasm for her products is absolutely contagious and I think that exactly this enthusiasm connects us both very special. Since I am not very familiar with the field of cosmetics, I have been asking Bouchra a lot of questions to better understand her goals and challenges. We were able to speak very openly from the beginning and I have great respect for the way she approaches and implements things, especially in this difficult CoVid-19 crisis. I was massively impressed by the strength with which she goes through this time and how she always remains positive and highly committed despite the difficulties. She works in a very structured way and has developed a promising business concept enriched by the upcoming Ecocert certification for her products. I am convinced that she will win many more new customers as she continues to expand her sales activities.
In any case, we will remain in close contact even after Ouissal, because a great friendship has developed from this tandem. Many thanks to Bouchra for her warm-heartedness and positive energy and to Asma and Clara for the great matching and the great organization of the program!
Do it with Love & Do it Wisely!
I am lucky enough to be passionate about my work and make my dream come true. Thus, my vision is to create a space gathering talents in my country, to build a solid community of entrepreneurs and project initiators, a place where they get inspired by each other’s experiences and increase their expertise. I believe that our country needs its conscious citizens in order to develop. Here comes the idea of the coworking space to put the success of our community in its core business. I am very dedicated to supporting them to start, grow, and scale into sustainable enterprises. Alone we can improve the quality of our life but together we can take it to the next level.
As a founder of Hive12, I’m working on developing a valuable network of partners. Needless to say, I ensure the good management of my community (team, coworkers, entrepreneurs …) as I am overseeing the workflow of all our events and training. In addition, I ensure the design of effective marketing strategies, expansion, and growth.
Hive12 Coworking space is a space where multiple individuals and businesses share a common infrastructure. Indeed, it’s the right place where you meet new people, make beneficial relationships, and find experts who can advise you and support you without any hesitation.
Moreover, we provide training and other programs and activities to entrepreneurs focusing on strategic, operational and commercial excellence: More than 90 training and events, including hosting the international global startup community program in the world startup grind, mentoring 90 project initiators in collaboration with the international ONG Mercy Corps. Furthermore, we had successfully integrated kids from SOS village in our region into professional life by inviting them to participate in various workshops animated by some members of our community…
What a wonderful vision and excellent leadership: Ichraf and Hive12 have really impressed me!
When I became part of Ouissal’s mentoring team end of 2019 I did not foresee what I was to experience. I had applied because I wanted to use my expertise as an entrepreneur and as a corporate manager to grow the bonds of European and Arabian countries and to support women in pursuing their careers and build their businesses. I was also interested to extend my intercultural competencies to a region that I had so far just known from vacation but not from a professional point of view.
In the upcoming weeks, I did not only get to know Tunisia, its political and economical landscape but even more important I met wonderful women from both Tunisia and Germany.
Already on our flight to Tunis, most of the German mentors had the chance to connect and almost immediately shared great discussions – and this was just the start of what would become an inspiring professional network.
When we first got to meet the Tunisian entrepreneurs I was proud and overwhelmed at the same time – so many women with ideas and the power to make a positive impact on Tunisia’s business and society.
And I was very excited: how would the couples be matched?
The matching was done in the best possible way – I think Clara must have a sixth sense on how to set up successful partnerships. Ichraf and I had a very close connection right from the start, we truly enjoy working with each other and sharing ideas even beyond the business part.
Our motto is: “Do it with love and do it wisely!” and the positive energy that we share is amazing. Ichraf is one of the most powerful, creative, caring, passionate, and energetic women I know. She has already grown Hive12 to an impressive business and community and I believe she will extend her impact far beyond Sousse. I would not be surprised to see her successfully conquer the international top-10 of female entrepreneurs one day.
We have been working together remotely for the past months and I am really looking forward to meeting in person again – and that goes for the whole network of Ouisall mentors and mentees!
I’m very grateful that EMA and BMZ provide us the opportunity to be part of Ouissal and I’d like to thank Clara and Asma for putting so much dedication and expertise into the program as well as all the mentors and mentees who contribute to our network and have inspired me in so many ways.
On The Right Path!
Asma Gatri, the founder of African Environment Consulting “A.E.C” based in the governorate of Kef (Tunisia), is a young Tunisian entrepreneur who graduated with a license in environmental protection specialty Treatment and recovery of waste and responsible for ISO 14001 implementation.
A.E.C’s mission is the development of environmental studies, hazard studies, implementation of the environmental management system. It has two representatives in Cameroon and Burkina Faso, among the activities there is also support for sub-Saharan entrepreneurs.
The objective of her participation in Ouissal was to obtain help in managing her office (ex: negotiation, leadership).
The monitoring period is divided into 2 periods; the one before COVID-19 which Tanja (Mentor & founder of Effektive Kundenbetreuung) helped Asma achieve its objective of “increasing turnover” thanks to the new negotiation techniques that have been acquired.
And the second period of COVID-19; during this period Tanja had supported Asma a lot, the two women became closer and closer because they shared feelings, there was brainstorming, even if there is a distance between them, but each one tries to be there for the other one, it’s female solidarity, during this period Tanja helped Asma to better understand managing her office in crisis situations and to understand that it is necessary to separate personal feelings and important decisions. Thanks to Tanja Asma understood that sometimes we are forced to make decisions that will leave us feeling bad.
Why did you join the mentoring program Ouissal?
Nora: I am impressed by the entrepreneurial mindset of Ynes and her co-founders. They are eager to get better, learn, improve their methods and results, they love seeing results, and getting things done. They believe in the value of their products and services and follow their purpose to let the Tunisian citizens experience the cool side of e-government and make them interact with the public authorities. No language barriers, COVID lockdowns, physical distance, or technical obstacles can stop their ideas and success. The tiniest tip and recommendation in our mentoring led to open communication between the founders and well-organized adjustments within the company and team – and let great results follow.
Ynes: As a young entrepreneur, being able to count on the wisdom and expertise of seniors in my field of business helps me make better choices and decisions. Our company Arsela is determined to assert itself through the success of its software solutions and our startup needs to refer to well known, successful organizations of caliber in our field, to optimize our life cycle and actively respond to the expectations and the trust of our partners in accordance with the required standards.
How are you doing it?
Nora: The management team at Arsela knows how much ease they can bring to the citizens of Tunisia and thereby supporting the young democracy: the public services become easily approachable by everyone. Cumbersome tasks like waiting for an appointment in your local authorities or reporting a broken lamp post, street sign, or litter box is easily handled by a nicely designed app on your Smartphone.
I am impressed by the energy and customer orientation that Ynes brings to her company. She is responsible for the customer requirements gathering all way down to the test of the solution and sales.. She manages internal processes improvement as well as getting new hires on board as ARSELA is steadily growing. I am convinced she can reach whatever she sets her mind to and Tunisia can be proud to have such talented and ambitious women in tech, who live for the purpose to improve the lives of the Tunisian citizens.
Ynes: Thanks to Nora, her experience, her expertise, her incredible open-mindedness, her insight, she accompanies us to succeed in growing our start-up.
As Arsela, We feel very fortunate to benefit from the guidance of a special mentor, who gives you her time, her full support, her energy, who is committed to our mission and helps us to overcome our challenges and to impact our environment.
What was your mentoring plan?
Nora: The three major milestones we set for our mentoring time focused on:
- learn to balance operational tasks and strategic tasks
- improve the internal processes between requirements management and development
- focus external communication on the addressee
Ynes: Aligning our management with international industry standards through the mentoring of Nora, a manager within a world leader in the IT field, is a valuable asset.
What did you do/learn/love?
Nora: I am proud to accompany Ynes thanks to the Ouissal program and thank her for her openness and bravery. It is an honor to receive her trust, get a deeper understanding of the challenges of a Tunisian e-government start-up, and help based on my own experience as a manager in a technological environment. The best in a mentoring relationship is that you learn from each other; take on different perspectives and to make the experience even better: Ouissal creates memories and relationships for a lifetime.
Ynes: The best part of this mentoring is the sense of sharing: the sharing of experience but also the sharing of strong and low moments meant that we have forged links that will last beyond this period of mentorship.
Mentoring builds strong bridges
After a few years of working in the family business, Zeineb decided to found 2019 Polysoft & Co – her own start-up specialized in sales management software development. She gave birth to this new project out of her passion to create a professional environment with the potential to grow internationally.
For her, being part of the Ouissal program is a great experience. At the beginning of the program, her company had completed the first stage of building up the needed infrastructure and experiences with first clients and employees. The focus of her work with her mentor Laura was on scaling up the business for future growth. The first common activity within the Ouissal program was to create a transparent overview of the business numbers – including revenue, operational costs, gain before tax, and investments. The next step was to work on the marketing strategy. First business posts on social media have been generated. It was the time the global Corona crisis started and businesses were on hold due to the big uncertainties. It was the time when the relationship mentor-mentee moved to another level – getting very personal and exchanging experiences around how to manage life in a time of crisis. As life gets back to normality, they will continue to work together in order to reach the planned goals.
The perfect match
After 4 years of entrepreneurship, I have reached a level where some answers became hard to answer: how can I develop my business? How can I respect myself and my limit as a woman to grow a business at a human scale? How can I develop my partnership network? And a big question, how do other female entrepreneurs grow their businesses?
Starting from those questions, I found the Ouissal program who offers a mentorship program with other female entrepreneurs, I applied, was selected and on the first day of the gathering week, I met my mentor Korinna Steffen. Korinna was really selected for me and for my needs, she was smart, kind, organized, she ran a business which is very similar to mine and we had a great connection very quickly.
We talked about everything; she wanted to learn about my life, in order to better help me to find answers and to coach me.
In a few days, during our meeting in Tunisia, we already framed my challenge and sketched an action plan. Korinna kept pinging me every 6 to 8 weeks to do the follow-up with my advancements, she’s very supportive, and she takes her role as a mentor very seriously and gives it all the attention that it deserves. Today, I want to highlight that Korinna is not just a mentor, she’s a very good friend, I share a lot with her. We learn from each other and every meeting is a happy moment for me. I feel safe and supported, and this is a great feeling for the woman entrepreneur that I am.
I’m grateful to Ouissal and Korinna for such a great experience of mentorship. For me, this is only the beginning of a long-lasting friendship.
I had the pleasure to meet Clara Gruitrooy at the Working Moms network in Hamburg. She gave us insights about the Ouissal program and EMA. A euro-Mediterranean-Arabic mentoring program with female entrepreneurs sounded so attractive to me that it took me a few minutes to decide to apply for it. Chosen for Tunis, I was quite excited to get the chance to meet so many interesting women from Tunisia as well as from Germany. One day after arrival, I have met my mentee, Ines. The combination of mentors and mentees were chosen very thoughtfully and so my mentee Ines has been a perfect match businesswise as well as personally. Our businesses are very similar and exchanging ideas is easy. She taught me about the Tunisian culture, invited me to her home, and showed me parts of her city. The Ouissal program provided additional workshops and insights into the city. Every second in Tunis was worth it and the Ouissal team was extremely supportive.
The whole relationship with Ines was on a level playing field which has made it very valuable for both of us. We have continued our exchange via regular video calls to keep us updated with the progress. The Covid-19 pandemic was like a burning glass for some topics and Ines made big decisions about her business. We were in contact to discuss the changes and to reflect on it. Reflection with Ines is always very inspiring and makes me reflect on my own business too. With Ines it’s always a great pleasure to develop new ideas, discuss cultural peculiarities, and to evolve our mentorship which has become so much more: an Arabic-European friendship.
Business, friendship & more!
Hayat Romdhani, a passionate Tunisian entrepreneur from Kairouan. A UNESCO World Heritage site, located in the center east of the country, where I founded « ACADEMIE KAIROUAN » in 2014. In spite of the challenges and the difficulties experienced, the academy has been able to bring in added value not only in Kairouan but also in Tunisia. Despite its location, the vocational training, and the language courses we offer, my project has reached a very considerable stage in the field of vocational training.
Being matched with Isabell Johann, my mentor, is considered as a one life chance that I really wanted to seize it. After nearly one year working with Isabell, I can say that I have learned a lot from an expert and a great woman. I have acquired new tools, skills, and high-level working techniques. My mentor was able, in this short period of time, to facilitate the adoption of a new e-learning strategy, and helped me develop a new dynamic and interesting website.
Since December 2019, Isabell and me, set up a very ambitious plan, and since then we have been working together on developing “Academie Kairouan”. First, we started working on establishing an innovative platform for human resources and accounting, which was mainly translated by Isabell. Second, thanks to her expertise and a great network, she ensured the establishment of important contacts with German training institutions to create a German-Tunisian partnership in order to take “Academie Kairouan” to an international level.
Since Corona, things started to become more difficult and more challenging. I had to shut down the activity for several months and think out of the box to save my business. Isabell has managed to mentor, coach, and guide me under such constraining conditions. She gave me her time to advise, and assist me on a professional and personal level. This has given birth to a strong friendship. She is simply a very strong and creative female entrepreneur.
Finally, I would like to express my sincere thanks to this mentoring program “Ouissal” which has allowed me to meet Isabell Johann. A special thanks to Clara Gruitrooy and Asma Hadj Mabrouk for the organization of this program and for the webinar series that we had since the beginning of the pandemic.
The webinars were a source of acquisition of new work techniques but also a tool for support and accompaniment during the crisis.Ouissal is very interesting, which I find a very important step in the life of every entrepreneur. I hope that it will be accessible to more women in Tunisia to get the benefit from it. Thanks to all the Ouissal team.
Having gained quite some international experience in my former education as well as former job positions, I am today responsible for finance, accounting, and processes in the family-owned company.
Many years ago, I had spent several months as a student intern in Tunis, so I was familiar with the country and its culture. During this time, I was already impressed by Tunisian businesswomen who I got to know. Knowing that the circumstances under which they work are often very different compared to Germany, I always admired their straightness, ambition, and courage.
When I first heard about the Ouissal program, I was immediately enthusiastic about participating and very lucky, when I was finally accepted as a mentor.
Hayet Romdhani, my tandem partner, is one of these women!
She is absolutely passionate about making her city, located in the rural heart of Tunisia, a better place by offering a broad range of education, especially to young people: language classes, professional classes that prepare for a first job, but also adult education for specific target groups.
Our common months of mentoring led to much more than just a mentor-mentee relationship. During the hardest pandemic weeks in spring 2020, the mentoring phase was more based on a personal level than a professional one. Giving courage one to another and listening to the challenges we are facing helped develop a true cross-cultural friendship.
Thank you very much to Ouissal for making the perfect match between Hayet & me! This German-Arab mentoring program is truly unique. It combines so many fantastic aspects: empowering women, networking, sharing of best practices, and, most important: it widens personal horizons and makes the world grow together by overcoming borders and cultures.
It is a pleasure to be part of this program!