YES Programs



The EcoGrow Saga

Amira in a black dress in front of a banner wall

By Amira Naji (YES 2018-2019, Tunisia, placed by ASSE in Olathe, KS)

My journey as the CEO and co-founder of EcoGrow traces back to the Tunis Business School Campus Club, where I found a shared passion for social and environmental entrepreneurship with my co-founder Hedi Mezghani. Through our research, we uncovered a startling truth: ULVA seaweed, rampant due to marine pollution, is harming our aquaculture by depriving fish of vital oxygen. In addition, the overuse of chemical fertilizers is wreaking havoc on our health, soil quality and long-term productivity. In the face of these ecological crises, we felt inspired to find a solution. Consulting with experts illuminated the path forward: ULVA seaweed could be transformed into a potent organic fertilizer to enrich soil and nourish crops.

A group of people listening to a man speaking

Fueled by our passion for sustainability and a vision to make a meaningful impact, we set out to create EcoGrow’s first product. We placed second in the 3ZERO national competition, which supports sustainability projects created by Tunisian youth.

After that, we were privileged to participate in a transformative 6-month incubation program at Westerwelle Startup Haus Tunis (WSHT). From the office space that became our second home to the insightful bootcamps, every moment has been a treasure. With the guidance of WSHT's experts, we meticulously crafted our business plan, fine-tuned our marketing strategy, and navigated through legal complexities. But my most cherished memory was the ImpactUp’s job fair. This opportunity enabled our team to grow, welcoming skilled interns onboard, and injecting fresh energy and expertise into our startup.

However, our path was far from smooth sailing. Countless sleepless nights, moments of self-doubt, and unforeseen challenges threatened to derail our dream. There were moments when the prospect of throwing in the towel seemed all too tempting. Yet, fueled by a strong belief in our vision, we pressed on. Amidst the challenges, I am always reminded of the words of Peter Drucker, who said, “Entrepreneurship is neither a science nor an art. It is a practice.” This encapsulates the essence of our journey – it's not just about creating a business, but about making an impact. Each setback we faced, whether it was financial challenges or time constraints, became an opportunity for growth and learning.

As we stand on the brink of realizing our vision, EcoGrow is amid the prototyping phase and legal creation, inching closer to materializing our dream. Looking back on our journey, we're grateful for the evolution from two students with a vision to a dedicated team with valued partners. With optimism and determination, we're prepared to confront any challenges ahead, inspired by the entrepreneurial spirit instilled in us by every experience.