Strategic Goal Achievement

Few medium-sized enterprises in Tunisia are privately owned industrial businesses. The Soran Group, headed by a committed couple, is one of them. After participating in the MP, co-founder Sonia Louati sharpened her strategy. Now she is in a position to stand up to strong competition in the long term.

Thirteen years ago, a young academic in Tunisia took a bold step. In 2006, Sonia Louati and her husband founded SORAN Signalétique S.A.R.L. At the time, Louati was 28 years old, had successfully completed her studies in computer science and had two years of practical work experience. In the early years, the young couple produced safety panels, displays and signage, always with a clear vision of becoming a market leader in Africa. But to get closer to their goal, they first needed to create added value for their products.

From a Production Firm to a Solution Provider

The enterprise has gradually developed from a simple production business to what it is today: a global solution provider with over 50 employees. Soran provides complete petrol station equipment and fittings, including petrol station shops. So far, the firm has equipped 230 petrol stations in 16 African countries − from conceptualisation through to installation. “Our customers showed us at the time what they needed and we listened to them”, says the businesswoman, who still maintains a close dialogue with customers. “Now we have a portfolio with which we can achieve our goal”, she explains.

“We think globally”, says the young entrepreneur. Therefore, participating in the MP in 2018 was a logical step for Louati, who is responsible for the strategic development of the enterprise. She has learned how important specialisation and focusing are for reducing costs and saving time. “In the past, we used to serve all customers; now – following the MP – we concentrate solely on petrol stations”, Louati says. The Total oil company, with which the petrol station business began some years ago, is Soran’s main customer.

Today Soran focuses on proximity to its customers. “We supply our customers with what they need before they even know they need it. That sets us apart”, the manager says. Competitors from France and Turkey – who, with their aggressive price policies, indeed pose a challenge to the up-and-coming business – are not so close to the customers’ needs.

New Partner from Germany

“I appreciate quality made in Germany”, says Louati, whose suppliers are in Europe and America. During the training in Germany, she signed a declaration of intent with PWM GmbH, a manufacturer of electronic price signs for petrol stations. Soran will carry out the installation and maintenance of the products supplied by the family business in North Rhine-Westphalia. Representatives from the firm have already trained Soran’s employees in Tunisia.

Following her stay in Germany, Louati separated production and engineering from one another and installed a department for research and development. “The clear – also spatial – division enables us to work in a more structured and effective way”, the entrepreneur explains. She has hired 15 new employees and contributed to creating new jobs for academics in a country in which job opportunities beyond agriculture and the public sector are rare. “The first years were often hard; now this often feels like a dream to my husband and me”, Louati adds. A dream which the MP helped to become reality.

 

Photos: © SORAN