Tunisia’s garment and textile sector is a major source of revenue and jobs in the country. However, there is an urgent need to make the sector more eco-friendly through sustainable fashion. This type of fashion calls for a reduction in the negative impact of the sector on people and the planet. From how material and garments are sourced and processed, to end users reusing clothes to ensure eco-clothing.

It is with this in mind that Agaruw has introduced new alternatives of eco-friendly fashion and décor products in the Tunisian market.

“We are an online marketplace and brand that provides a space for artisans and designers to showcase their eco-friendly, recycled fashion products,” said the startup’s cofounders.

Agaruw was started by Mejda Khaled and Mohamed Dhaouafi. It has been in existence since 2019 and has introduced new alternatives for eco-friendly fashion and décor products into the market. Ms Khaled is a textile engineer, as well as a fashion artist and art designer with more than eight years of experience.

“The fashion industry is the second most polluting industry globally after oil and gas. Small designers and artisans who are less known and more eco-friendly are being pushed out by bigger brands. This is what led us to create this platform, to not only support these local artists but also push for more sustainable fashion industry,” said Ms. Khaled.

She added that the startup is the first in Tunisia to create such a platform that is dedicated to eco-friendly products and supporting local artisans and designers.

“Our aim is to tackle over-consumption and the huge amount of waste and pollution created by the fashion industry and which affects the entire globe. In addition, there was a need to protect traditional artists’ work,” said Ms. Khaled.

The firm’s mode of operation works in three ways:

  • The firm operates as an online marketplace that promotes handmade, recycled, and eco-friendly products made by local artists and artisans.
  • The AGARUW brand enables the company to recycle plastic, leather, wood and other fabrics to create fashion items.
  • The company encourages recycling and empowerment of women and marginalised groups by enabling them to gain more skills, boosting their work and providing them with business opportunities.

Ms. Khaled has vast experience organising international and national art exhibitions to empower local designers and artisans and provide a platform for them showcase their products. The platform promotes their creations, which are handmade and eco-friendly, and enables them to earn money from their work. AGARUW, also engages the local artisans and designers in environmental conservation initiatives.

“We provide resources to allow anyone who is interested to learn fashion skills through online classes and also provide the materials they would need to start their small businesses. Our platform also empowers clients to customise the products on sale, to increase our brand value and boost loyalty,” said Ms. Khaled.

The startup has the potential to impact at least 6.5 million users ranging from 14 years to 50 years. The organisation is currently operating in three regions of the country: Tunis, which is the capital city; Monastir, which is the textile hub; and Sousse, the country’s third economic city.

AGARUW has been reducing solid waste like plastics, wood, fabric by transforming them into eco-friendly fashion and décor products. It has been helping to address the social and environmental factors of the country’s textile industry.

The firm has plans to expand its reach and impact internationally.