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Moroccan Social Entrepreneurship

One of the first observations when traveling through the Moroccan countryside is the lack of billboards and advertisements.  A US highway has so many signs, billboards and noise constantly grabbing for your attention that you almost don’t notice it.  Outside of the Marrakesh, many of the accommodations are adequate and yet simple — without much of the junk and pizzazz you see in the other parts of the world.

It made me wonder, if commercialism hadn’t taken over, had other advances, such as social entrepreneurship made their way in? My simple Google search brought up the Moroccan Center for Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship, detailing their manifest for advancing these causes in Morocco; and yet by their own admission, has also made it clear that, there wasn’t much happening in this arena.

As a fan of the Launch 48 and Startup Weekend events — I loved this project mentioned on the blog:

Together with the Moroccan Game Developers, on April 29 — May 1, we hosted a 48-hour Hackathon: Gamifying for Social Impact, the first of its kind for Morocco. The aim of the hackathon was to bring together experts and enthusiasts, particularly with tech, environmental and entrepreneurial backgrounds; to create solutions to environmental issues in Morocco.

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The single definitive report on the State of Social Entrepreneurship in Morocco, “Lighting the Way: The State of Social Enterprise in Morocco”, details the skyrocketing demand for new businesses which impact the quality of life and to give something back to its community instead of just earning profits.

It discusses how the familiarity with social enterprise in Morocco is still extremely low, as is the understanding of what it represents. The efforts are primarily driven by a small group of graduates with exposure to international ideas. Much of the emphasis is around supporting women and providing education and training, especially in the arts and handicrafts.

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The most fascinating part of the report are the case studies — projects like “Looly’s Fine Perals of Couscous” which is employing women at risk of domestic violence, and paying them 20% market wage — as well as involving their husbands not to create a disparity in the family.

Another project was “Anarouz” — an online e-commerce platform helping women throughout Morocco to connect with an international market, with reinvestments into training, and helping women become leaders in their communities.  Equality of women’s rights has progressed significantly throughout the world, amidst the presence of stereotypes and expectations that make it difficult to realize.  Access to education helps, but not if family, professors and the society send limiting messages.

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One more project was “Care”, a company providing clothing to communities in need — and for every item of clothing they sell, they give one to a person in need.  I personally like this type of business – a profitable business for those who can afford to pay, then covering the costs for those who can’t.  Business socialism without the forced mandate makes it more genuine, and helps create better bonds throughout our local communities.

I believe progress happens one step at a time. Find something fun, something that works and uplifting for everyone, then see it start to spread.

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Also published on Medium.

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