07 Nov 2019
Tunis, Tunisia
Organic Food and Agriculture

Traditional meets modern at ArtisaNature, an online sales platform for Tunisian products that are organic, fair trade, artisanal or handmade. Internet shoppers can browse a catalogue filled with Tunisian foods and spices, artisanal carpets and furniture — and much more. The initiative’s raison d’être is to expand the reach of Tunisia’s farmers and craftspeople into uncharted territories. “We want to create a truly international platform and grow the marketplace for Tunisian products,” said Wahiba Ben Ali, ArtisaNature’s marketing director. 

According to Ben Ali, ArtisaNature promotes greater transparency about the entire supply chain for Tunisian goods, which encourages awareness about sustainability. The website contains information about the origin of certain goods, including video features and interviews with partner producers. ArtisaNature also arranges tourism events, which bring consumers closer to what they are purchasing. This emphasis on openness reinforces ArtisaNature’s objective of ensuring a more profitable — while also sustainable — future for Tunisian agriculture and manufacturing.

Ben Ali established ArtisaNature in 2018 with Kacem Berkhais, her co-founder and partner. The pair saw a commercial opportunity in a business that connected local producers with wider markets — both within Tunisia, and beyond the country’s borders. An online portal stood out as the most efficient way to pursue this aim — after all, it also capitalizes on the exponential growth of internet shopping in recent years.

ArtisaNature comes at a crucial moment in Tunisian history, as many citizens struggle to find work opportunities. The online platform promotes a “solidarity economy,” allowing consumers to pay money directly to Tunisian small businesses. ArtisaNature only recovers its logistical costs from online sales by special producers, such as rural women and those with disabilities. This ensures that traditionally marginalised groups receive maximum profits when selling through ArtisaNature.

The lynchpin of ArtisaNature’s competitive edge — introducing Tunisian producers to the online marketplace — presents considerable challenges. “Digital communication needs a significant budget to survive,” observed Ben Ali. With extra funding, ArtisaNature could improve online payment options and allow greater website access to the producers.

Nevertheless, Ben Ali reflects fondly on ArtisaNature’s efforts to draw on Tunisia’s ancient know-how and contemporary innovation. Thanks to modern technology, she was thrilled to receive payment for ArtisaNature’s first sale in the US market: two bottles of organic olive oil. At the same time, Ben Ali loves telling stories to the world about the homespun ingenuity of her local producers. “Every video that we make with our partners is a very good memory,” she said.

 

Learn more about ArtisaNature through the website, Facebook and Instagram.

Photos courtesy of ArtisaNature

David works as a freelance writer and researcher in Beirut. He was previously based in Cairo.David Wood
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ArtisaNature Organic Food and Agriculture
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