[InnovAgroWoMed] The monthly interview - Soumaya Atoui: "Women just have to know how to seize the opportunities"
It all started in an amateur blog of a talented young girl. This ordinary blog attracted many visitors very quickly. After the success of the blog, Soumaya decided to really make the dream she always had come true; go to the supermarket and find a multitude of healthy and delicious snack choices. She was inspired by similar English and others from the Tunisian drawer to create healthy, delicious, and affordable snacks. It all started in her own family kitchen, with a small budget and the help of a friend, she created her first "GranoCup" product from A to Z, from graphic design to production and marketing. the goal was to convince the community that eating a healthy, delicious, and easy to prepare food is not rocket science! She achieved sales of 500 pieces in 2 weeks.
At the age of 23, Soumaya Atoui, freshly graduated dietician and founder of “Healthy & Bnin” (literally, healthy & delicious), a startup of healthy snacks in Tunisia.
Before launching Healthy & Bnin, she has always loved sports and cooking. Her passion for cooking became a bit special, her goal was to turn the meals we eat every day into healthy meals with natural and bio ingredients.
She launched a blog in 2017 to share her little know-how with moms so that they can transmit their new knowledge to those around them and give their children balanced and healthy snacks and meals.
Gradually, she also began to immerse herself in the world of entrepreneurship during her first year at university, where she began, through clubs and associations, to discover a new world: the entrepreneurial ecosystem. After a few attempts, she won several national and international awards with teams of friends in the field of social entrepreneurship: namely, the "INJAZ Prize of the MENA Region" in 2017, "Hult Prize Global Finalist" in 2018 and many other awards.
After her small first adventures in the business market, her experience with 3 startups in the renewable energy sector and after obtaining her degree in Nutrition Science, she finally decided to launch the project of her dreams "Healthy & Bnin" the healthy, practical and delicious snacks, made with natural products with a touch of cheerful and appetizing colors.
Women entrepreneurs in the agri-food sector: what challenges must be overcome?
As a young woman entrepreneur, Soumaya admits that she has encountered all kinds of obstacles, the most difficult being the financial one; "I started this project with "Love Money" in a modest family and it wasn't always easy to operate with a small budget. But I am lucky to have a family and a group of friends who believed in me and came to my aid whenever I needed them".
In this little journey that has just begun, Soumaya has tried to learn as much as possible, "I did read books on marketing, finance, body language, etc. I did my research and asked for help and advice from experts. Over time, I understood the different perspectives of people from different social classes and different countries and cultures through my travels. That's why I don't think that I have encountered major socio-cultural problems, and I think that in Tunisia in this era, women have more opportunities and chances to succeed in the entrepreneurship scene, you just have to know how to seize these opportunities".
The pandemic will be part of our daily life, let's think of it as an opportunity!
Like many other entrepreneurs, Soumaya has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Shops have closed, school benches deserted, customers in general and parents in particular were afraid to buy cooked meals. Everyone went to the ovens running the risk of catching the virus on the baker's bread or in the middle of the lemon pie of the surrounding shops. Healthy & Bnin" sales decreased, it was predictable. Soumaya says that at the beginning of the crisis, "she didn't know what to do or what was the right decision to make and what was the best message to send through the social networks in such times. Once we realized that this was going to be our new daily life, we started looking for new partnerships and resumed our activities. We moved into high gear in terms of health measures. We made sure that our team, our suppliers and our delivery partners strictly complied with the health protocol set up by the Government. ».
"Healthy & Bnin" now has all the ingredients for success and has already started to prove itself. To boost the business, Soumaya says it lacks the necessary financing today to expand the team and purchase new equipments. She is not giving up, she is working on it and she is exploring all the options, including the InnovAgroWoMed project.