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A story of new meets old: next generation pottery business expansion in Tunisia

05 February 2024 UNIDO

Creative Tunisia Story

Montassar Sassi, a 26-year-old ceramic artist, was born into a family with a long legacy of pottery craftsmanship dating back to 1960 when his grandfather, Mohamed Sassi, established the family business. More than 60 years later, Sassi was determined to expand the traditional business into a sizeable facility embracing modern technology, while remaining true to his family’s traditional artisanal roots. 

Today, after earning a degree in electrical engineering, Montassar proudly continues his family's cherished tradition and business. With his academic background, he is driven to go beyond the charm of old-fashioned techniques and modernize his family's heritage. He envisions an expanded production hub that fuses traditional artistry with new technologies, a blend crucial to his ambitious vision.

Tunisia pottery 1

Empowered by the Creative Tunisia project, a pivotal initiative backed by UNIDO, Montassar breathed life into his dream.  

Funded by the Commission of the European Union and the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation (AICS), Creative Tunisia works to strategically enhance Tunisia’s artisanal and design sector via improved product quality and broader market access, both locally and globally.  

The goal is development of a more sophisticated, value-added economy, supporting six key clusters and value chains which foster job creation and international market expansion, aided by multi-service support centers distributed across the country. The centers function as comprehensive resources, empowering artisanal enterprises to access integrated support services and establish unique positions within their respective clusters and value chains. 

Montassar gushes with praise: “Now I can aspire to conquer new markets with the support of UNIDO’s Creative Tunisia project, which has enabled us, through its guidance, to increase our production capacity and create high-quality products,” he says.

Tunisia pottery 2

Montassar’s narrative goes beyond personal growth; it embodies a shared path towards progress. His artisanal business, which is now a member of the Handmade Craft Group, a consortium supported by the Creative Tunisia project, collaborates on access to new international markets.  

Guided by the project, his company has not only developed new products through designer involvement but also established structured and sustainable business models.  

There’s a broader success story here too. 

Montassar’s journey embodies the fusion of tradition and innovation, illustrating the ongoing transformation in Tunisia’s artisanal landscape. He stands as an example of tradition meeting modernity, shaping a future where heritage crafts thrive globally and inspiring others to do the same. 

Project name: Supporting handicrafts and design value chains in Tunisia- Creative Tunisia