Marwa Nabli is the founder of Patisserie Madame Chaabane, a fine-pastry manufacturer and caterer based in Gafsa.
Ms. Nabli came up with the idea to start a fine-pastry shop after moving with her husband to Gafsa, where she realized there were no fine-pastry shops. While she had no formal training in the industry, she was determined to learn – and got her family in Nabeul to teach her the basics of baking and pastry-making.
Gradually, Ms. Nabli bought pastry equipment and supplies and began baking bite-sized desserts at home. Later, she took training courses in pastry-making at a vocational training center in Tunis to further hone her craft.
She put her skills to the test in 2011, officially starting Patisserie Madame Chaabane with four employees. Quickly, the business gained popularity for its delicious deserts – and customers began asking it to cater for events in the region.
In 2019, Ms. Nabli moved her operation to a bigger facility and started exploring growth opportunities in other regions such as Tunis, Sousse, Sfax, Nabeul, and Djerba. However, there were significant challenges to her growth plan. First, the company’s packaging did not fully reflect its product quality, and it had yet to establish a unique brand identity. Then, in 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic struck, causing many of Patisserie Madame Chaabane’s catering events to be cancelled and cutting its revenue in half for the year.
In the aftermath of this crisis, USAID Tunisia JOBS provided the company with valuable technical assistance to help it get back on track. In 2021, JOBS worked with the company to develop more professional packaging for its products and signage at its shop. In addition, JOBS helped the company improve its online marketing to reach more buyers in Tunisia and abroad. Patisserie Madame Chaabane, meanwhile, invested in more modern equipment, including refrigerators, mixing drums, and electric ovens, enabling it to produce far more pastries.
Later in 2021, JOBS also awarded Patisserie Madame Chaabane a grant to purchase a cold storage room and machinery to produce higher-value pastries like macarons.
As a result of JOBS’ support, Patisserie Madame Chaabane was able to create 19 jobs, mostly for women, and increase sales by 210,000 TND ($75,300) in 2021.
“As we continue to bounce back from the COVID-19 pandemic, we look forward to expanding our business and opening new stores in prominent cities like Tunis, Sousse, and Nabeul. Long-term, we also aim to sell our products in foreign markets.”
Founder – Patisserie Madame Chaabane