Coaching entrepreneurs in Tunisia to help them better cope with the Covid-19 crisis and its consequences

At our clients’ side coming out of the crisis

The Covid-19 crisis has had devastating health, economic and social effects for vulnerable populations, including for micro-entrepreneurs operating in the informal sector. Looking to support its customers most impacted by the crisis, in 2020 Advans Tunisie put in place its innovative “3 x 100%” coaching programme: 100% distance coaching, 100% tailored and 100% free. The program was developed in partnership with local NGOs TAMSS (Tunisian Association for Management and Social Stability) and ADEME (Tunisian Association for the Development of Small Businesses), both specialised in the coaching and support of entrepreneurs and funded by the Conseil de Gouvernance Economique Belgo-Tunisien, FMO, SANAD and SCBF while Advans Tunisie contributed 38% of the overall budget.

"This project idea was born during the crisis, and proves the agility of the institution, which seeks to find quick solutions for our most fragile clients. We were able to identify the challenges encountered by our clients and to set up a program suited to the needs of entrepreneurs in each region," commented Advans Tunisie’s CEO, Brieuc Cardon.


Objectives of the program

The coaching programme aimed to help clients take effective actions to better cope with the crisis and reinforce the resilience of their activities. Each client was assigned a personal coach which encouraged participants to commit to the programme and enabled them to acquire skills adapted to the specific situation of their business and sector. All interactions with beneficiaries were followed up on a dedicated web platform, thus allowing Advans to monitor the performance of the program and its impact on entrepreneurs’ activities thanks to precise indicators.

How did the programme work?

Training sessions lasted between 5 and 7 hours per person and were delivered remotely using digital tools such as Skype, WhatsApp and messenger or basic cell phones (for those who did not have smartphones and who had internet issues, mainly in rural areas). The coaching program was comprised of four main phases. First, clients were onboarded by Advans: the program was presented to them, and their motivation and availability were verified. Then, the diagnosis phase was key as the coach helped each entrepreneur identify the weaknesses and threats that their business was facing, as well as the needs in terms of business management. This led on to the next phase, with the establishment of a tailored action plan. Next came follow-up sessions to support the client during the implementation of the action plan. Finally, Advans teams carried out an assessment to measure the impact of the program on the client and their activities.

Very positive results

After a pilot phase covering 100 clients, the project was rolled out in October 2020 and completed in February 2021, targeting 1000 clients with 328 women who completed the programme.

“It’s the first time I have done a remote coaching program. The coach was open to discussion anytime. The coaching program was conducted in a friendly way. I was happy to have this support from Advans and the level of encouragement from the coaches was incredible. Right now, I know how to prioritize actions and to organize my business, and how to take it to the next level. Learning how to organize things helped me to manage my stress and to feel satisfied with my business despite all the uncertainty we are living right now.” Meriem Abidi, Pastry business owner

With 90% of beneficiaries saying they were satisfied with the support they received, Advans Tunisie put in place a coaching programme that met customers’ changing needs in the difficult context of the Covid crisis. This first positive experience showed that close coaching support combined with adapted financial services can help clients to recover and develop their businesses even in challenging context.