Launching his company Chifco, a start up that focuses on energy-efficient technology and innovation, in Tunisia was a vote of confidence in the country’s future economic landscape.
“If we Tunisians don’t invest in our country, then who will?” asked Chouaieb. “By investing, we will be sending a strong message to foreign investors reassuring them and regaining their confidence in our economy.”
Some of Chifco’s clients include major corporations, such as Microsoft, Intel, and Unilever.
The InnerJ Box, Chifco’s main product, is described as a “customer engagement platform” that seeks to improve energy efficiency and transparency in the ways in which utility and telecommunications companies, as well as facility managers, deliver services to customers. The technology relates in particular to smart grid management, or automated responses hardwired in electrical grids that aim to reduce energy consumption.
Chouaieb told Tunisia Live that the business idea was motivated by the goals of sustainable development and former U.S. Vice President Al Gore’s environmental activism.
Chouaieb is an engineer and graduate of French university ESCP Paris.
Starting out, research and development comprised a major component of Chifco’s early efforts. Numerous studies were conducted and financed by various chambers of commerce, Chouaieb said.
He explained that many entrepreneurs perceive access to finance as the number one barrier to setting up their own businesses and focus an excessive amount of their energy on trying to establish an exact business model.
“They need to work on themselves first and evaluate themselves,” he said, “because investors look at the team profile before anything else.”
Since the Tunisian revolution, the country has faced an uncertain economic situation, which has made some investors anxious.
But Chouaieb said he had no regrets about setting up his company in Tunisia and that the current climate presented numerous opportunities.
Investors in Tunisia have easy access to a large pool of “geeks,” he said, plus costs are lower than in many other foreign countries and the revolution has brought the country worldwide recognition, which can help expand its market internationally.