Tunisia: unlocking the power of WOMEN

Fierce women

In collaboration with OCO Global, PCIAW® is shining a spotlight on Tunisia’s outstanding female-run businesses that reflect the country’s remarkable talent and ingenuity. 

Since January 2021, PCIAW® has forged a close relationship with OCO Global to cultivate exclusive nearshoring opportunities in Tunisia to provide resilience to UK supply chains after the debilitating effects of a global pandemic. 

OCO Global is an international consultancy with a 20-year legacy of collaboration with the private sector and governments across the world to develop wide-reaching successful business strategies. OCO Global operates in a specialist area of trade and foreign investment, acting as a bridge between the UK and Tunisia and working on behalf of the North Africa Joint Unit of the FCDO and the British Embassy Tunis (via TetraTech as the main contractor of the NATAF).

Tunisia as the UK’s nearshore partner 

In January 2021, OCO Global and PCIAW® hosted an exclusive webinar promoting the Buy Tunisian Textiles project funded by the UK Foreign, Commonwealth Development Office (FCDO) and supported by the British and Tunisian Ambassadors, with speakers from the Tunisian government, CEPEX, Gerber Technology and Hunter Apparel Solutions. 

The webinar facilitated collaboration between UK buyers and Tunisian manufacturers, shining a spotlight on significantly competitive production costs and a dynamic, inventive workwear industry. 


Looking towards the future, PCIAW® is opening the doors to the world-renowned PCIAW® Summit, Networking & Awards held on 2-3 November 2021 to the Tunisian textiles industry. On 25 June 2021, an exclusive webinar was held in partnership with CEPEX, the Tunisian Textile and Clothing Federation (FTTH), and OCO Global to highlight B2B matchmaking opportunities between Tunisian manufacturers and professional clothing suppliers and buyers during the PCIAW® Summit, Networking & Awards 2021.

The highly-esteemed networking event will unite the entire professional clothing industry and offer unparalleled networking and exhibition opportunities for suppliers, buyers, manufacturers, and distributors. The PCIAW® Summit, Networking & Awards will include fantastic investment opportunities and chances to forge business partnerships between the Tunisian workwear sector and the flourishing UK professional clothing industry.

Empowering women in Tunisian trade

Tunisia possesses a vast spectrum of talents and facilities with a skilled capacity for washing, spinning and dyeing yarns, as well as a precision for textiles manufacturing. Located in the Maghreb region of North Africa, Tunisia is a dynamic and enriching textiles nation with longstanding ties to the UK. Both PCIAW® and OCO Global are facilitating trade between the Tunisian textiles sector and the UK by promoting innovative textiles companies with the relevant skills for the UK market. 

Various studies by the UN and the WEF have shown that as of 2020, only 47% of women participated in the global labor force, in comparison to 74% of men. Globally, only one in three businesses are owned by women, and these companies tend to be small and operate in the informal sector. Additionally, women-owned firms are vastly underrepresented in international trade, with only 15% exporting from their country. 

OCO Global’s Export Facilitation Programme in Tunisia supports female entrepreneurs with specialist training in management, leadership, marketing and sales, as well as financial literacy to strengthen and scale up their businesses. 

The PCIAW® is committed to supporting innovation in Tunisia, collaborating with OCO Global to help businesses expand their network on a national and international level. The following case studies showcase Tunisia’s leading female-run businesses, supported by OCO Global in collaboration with The Next Women Tunisie, which encapsulate the country’s flourishing and agile textiles industry. 

Tunisia’s leading female-run businesses encapsulate the country’s flourishing and agile textiles industry, which is ideally positioned for collaboration with UK buyers and suppliers.

Khalta: reinventing concrete

Khalta is a creative design studio that designs and produces furniture, decorative objects, lighting, and jewellery from a special mix of Tunisian cement. Khalta produces 100% handmade Tunisian products based on a unique recipe of light, strong and malleable concrete.

Imen Farah and Molka Ayadi-khalta
Imen Farah and Molka Ayadi

Khalta started in December 2015, when Imen Farah and Molka Ayadi joined forces to open their own architecture workshop. Imen graduated from the Superior National School of Architecture of Lyon in 2012, going on to work for various architecture firms in France before returning to Tunisia. As the daughter of an architect, Molka graduated from the School of Architecture and Urbanism of Tunis in 2013, working at various French architectural firms before joining her family business. The two conceived of the unique idea of creating a product line of concrete objects, named Khalta, the Arabic word for mixture.

After a thorough 9 months of research and development, Imen and Molka formulated a special recipe for a fibre-reinforced concrete. In September 2016, Khalta was unveiled to the public for the first time, debuting a collection of home decor, lighting, and tableware. Since then, Khalta has expanded its global profile, forging key partnerships in Tunisia and across the world. The innovative start-up continues to develop new collections and ranges and is renowned for its characteristic concrete, clean, and minimalist design. 

Khalta was awarded first prize for the Best Design Gallery from SADIKA in 2016 and has featured in Femmes De Tunisie, Disrupt Tunisia, FF Designer Magazine, and Ideo Magazine.

In 2021, Khalta was the recipient of a grant disbursed by the British Embassy in Tunisia and administered by OCO Global, Tetratech and BFPME, a state-owned bank with a mandate to support SMEs, to help enhance their capability and strengthen their export activities

Architect with Artisan (AwA)

Samia Ben Abdallah

Samia Ben Abdallah is the founder of Architect with Artisan (AwA), a thriving handicrafts business in Tunisia. As a graduate of the National Architecture and Urban Planning School of Tunisia, Samia has worked in Paris and Tunis before joining an architectural agency at The Lac. With over 15 years of architectural experience, Samia has perfected object design to create bespoke home accessories, including lighting, jewellery holders, coat racks, coffee tables, and chairs. She draws inspiration from the pictorial references of Tunisian painters like Nejib Belkhoudja, foregrounding a timeless and linear heritage throughout her work.

AwA has a unique line of leather goods and accessories that bring together a creative universe inscribed in the continuity of a linear architectural heritage, as well as innovation in vernacular know-how. The specialist business relies on the finest leather sourced from a large Tunisian tannery, which empowers the local workforce and economy.

AwA and belonging

AwA expresses the new trends of the millennial generation, embodying connectedness and evolving relations between communities as traditional consumption habits give way to a new, responsible lifestyle in this contemporary age of liberated individual identity. 

AwA offers a line of bespoke, timeless products that are of the highest quality, complementing a clean, essential lifestyle. 

The AwA concept expresses a continuous search for functionality, combining creativity and innovation to herald a new dawn of aestheticism and elegance.

Soltana and Fierce: Breaking barriers

Fierce Cocooning

Fierce is a leading Arab sportswear and activewear brand providing high-quality fashion for the expansive Middle East and North Africa market. Its founder, Fatma Ben Soltane, is a skilled, innovative and creative Tunisian designer with over 10 years of experience in the fashion industry

An adept entrepreneur, Fatma previously launched SOLTANA, a luxury ready-to-wear women’s brand in 2015. This prêt-a-couture brand showcases exclusive embroidery, combining sophistication and glamour to produce a distinguished and elegant style renowned for consistent quality.

Fierce is a successful and inclusive women’s luxury brand that sells its exclusive products through an innovative e-commerce platform. The selection of ready-to-wear women’s sportswear and activewear are composed of certified performance fabrics. Fierce products are skillfully manufactured in-house, boasting strong technical expertise and know-how based on international standards. The eco-friendly manufacturing process upcycles unsold items to generate as little waste as possible. In addition, Fierce uses recycled fabrics composed of discarded plastic bottles, with the eventual goal of producing 70% recycled fabrics by the end of 2023. 

The Fierce vision is to mix optimal functionality with glamorous fashion for all shapes and sizes. As an inclusive brand, Fierce aims to normalise hijabs within the sports industry, leading to acceptance, confidence, and empowerment. 

The renowned activewear brand has made significant inroads into the athleisure market, providing fashionable, inclusive and high-quality products at competitive prices to buyers across the world.

S&S Design: expert manufacturers

Based in the historic textiles capital of Korba, Tunisia, S&S Design is just 80km away from Tunis Carthage Airport and Enfidha Airport. 

Founded in 2018, S&S Design is a Tunisian textiles and clothing export company with a team of highly skilled staff and a standardised working system. The team is in a continuous process of expansion and enhancement, incorporating the latest technological innovation in order to ensure that customers are provided the best possible textiles quality.

S&S Design manufactures a wide range of products from the high-end market, including professional and branded clothing in the hospitality and medical industries, to custom made-to-order garments with a variety of customisable options. The efficient production and delivery process are keys to its success, with dedicated production units for cutting, dyeing, printing and stitching, which allow S&S Design to accommodate large scale orders. The expert manufacturer can offer flexibility on quantities and deadlines, adapting to agile planning requirements for a diverse range of clients.

In addition, S&S Design has been working on upcycling with renowned designer brands like Ahluwalia, recipient of the 2021 Queen Elizabeth II Award for British Design. Both companies have successfully regenerated the lifecycle of vintage and surplus clothing through various textile and patchwork techniques. S&S Design has also collaborated with award-winning fashion labels across the UK and Ireland, including AGR and Robyn Lynch, the designer menswear brand featured in London Fashion Week 2020.

As a significant textiles exporter to Europe, Tunisia nurtures both foreign and local-owned export companies, solidifying its position as one of the leading garment suppliers in the world.

The Tunisian textiles industry is flourishing with design-led innovation and the finest manufacturing capabilities. As a significant textiles exporter to Europe, Tunisia nurtures both foreign and local-owned export companies, solidifying its position as one of the leading garment suppliers in the world. 

The North African nation presents compelling benefits as a nearshore manufacturer of specialist textiles and professional clothing for UK buyers and suppliers. 

If you would like to know more about women-owned textile companies please contact OCO Global.

PCIAW Trusted Member
OCO Global

Web: www.ocoglobal.com

Tel: +44 (0) 7384 895232 

Email: barbara.grunewald@ocoglobal.com

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