Silex Composites: Helping a hard-hit firm reach new export markets

Assistance to enterprises / Articles / 23-01-2023

Ahmed Bouharb is the founder of Silex Composite, a manufacturing company that produces quartz household appliances, such as sinks and bathtubs. The company is located in the underserved town of Ksour Essaf in Mahdia governorate. 

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Ahmed jumped into the composite manufacturing industry after completing his military studies and earning a diploma in vehicle maintenance. He started Silex Composite in 2007 with just two employees, offering a limited range of quartz products, such as tabletops. His products proved successful and he soon expanded. By 2011, Silex Composite had grown significantly, largely due to strong demand in Algeria and Libya. At this point, Ahmed even began looking to break into new markets in sub-Saharan Africa.

However, when the Libyan conflict broke out, business slowed down dramatically. At the same time, the company struggled to centralize its data, leading to miscalculations and delays.

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In 2020, Tunisia JOBS stepped in to help the company implement an efficient organisation system that streamlined production and guaranteed product traceability. But while it improved in these areas, the company also faced additional challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic, such as burdensome health restrictions and declining demand. 

As a result of the health crisis, Silex Composite had to completely shut down for seven months. During this time, Ahmed kept his employees on payroll and covered all fixed costs – but this seriously hurt the company’s finances. 

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As the composite market gradually recovered following, JOBS provided Silex Composite a grant to cover its working capital needs, purchase raw materials, and finance a colouring module that would improve its product quality. 

With JOBS’ grant and technical assistance, Silex Composite created 16 new jobs. 

Now, the company plans to expand even more, increasing production from 1,200 pieces of quartz products per month to 2,000 pieces per month – and enter new markets, such as Benin and Italy.

Silex Composites owner

"JOBS’ grant came at the right time – just as orders started to pick up again. The assistance helped us resolve our cash-flow problem and improve our product quality with a new colouring machine."
Ahmed Bouharb
Founder – Silex Composites

 

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