The Hard Worker

Even when he was a student, Fahmi Fersi, 31, knew he wanted to run his own business.

Thinking of how he could get going without needing a big investment, he decided the best thing to do would be to start an online sales company.

In 2006, during a trip to china paid for by his father, a Chinese manufacturer of ink and toner cartridges asked him about the possible market for its goods in Tunisia.

He returned home and did some research. Deciding the demand was there, he borrowed 6,000 dinars (about US$4,500) from his father, designed a website, rented a small store in Tunis and took US$300 worth of ink cartridges from the Chinese company on consignment.

Today, Fahmi runs his business by buying on credit, selling for cash and holding as little inventory as possible. He delivers orders to customers around Tunis on his scooter; those further off he sends by post.

After business fell off sharply as a result of Tunisia’s Jasmine Revolution of 2010-11, he added computer maintenance, web hosting and web design to his services.

Still unable to afford to hire any staff, he handles almost everything himself, with a little help from his wife, whom he married two years ago. They are now expecting their first child