I always considered entrepreneurship an important factor for the economic growth of any country. Morocco is one of those developing countries that has started to support entrepreneurship, especially women’s entrepreneurship. Well, it’s true that in Morocco, entrepreneurship has been for long time a male territory where no woman had the courage to enter. Fortunately, Moroccan women have been able to gain most of their rights and they can finally compete with men and realize one of their dreams: Entrepreneurship. In Morocco, we believe that women’s entrepreneurship symbolizes both the will of women to take part in the social and economic development of their country, and the readiness of this country to promote such kinds of women’s initiatives by creating a favourable entrepreneurial business environment.
This appears like an ideal picture, but it’s not entirely the case. Women are still facing many constraints and difficulties in creating their own businesses in Morocco especially when it comes to government support and cultural constraints. For example, accessing credit is one of the first obstacles that many Moroccan women face when wishing to start their own business. This is why I believe the government should offer more flexibility to women entrepreneurs in terms of business financing, or at least prepare them for such constraints by providing training. Training is crucial as it enables them to avoid common mistakes and learn from the errors of existing projects in order to enhance their business and entrepreneurial potential. Let’s take the example of the United States where free websites and associations are devoted to the education and training of female entrepreneurs and small business owners to help them succeed, know what type of entrepreneur they are, and learn how to overcome personal and business challenges.
But accessing credit is not the only obstacle facing these women entrepreneurs. Cultural constraints—which do still exist—constitute another significant obstacle that women entrepreneurs face in Morocco. How? Well, in case you didn’t know, in Moroccan society women are a dominated group and men are dominant. This is mainly because of the deeply rooted foundations of the Moroccan patriarchal society. Hence, even if women entrepreneurs in Morocco have defied men and now compete with them side to side in the “battlefield” of entrepreneurship, the social stereotype of weakness associated with women in Moroccan society is still common and prevents many other women from participating in this entrepreneurship revolution. I personally feel angry and frustrated each time I see some women judged in terms of their capacities, time sacrifice and entrepreneurial endurance before they even start their businesses. I believe this constitutes a real obstacle for these women since community support is very important to enhance their self-confidence and to encourage them to defy biased people and prove that they are wrong.
However, the good news is Moroccan women entrepreneurs have made important achievements contributing to the social and economic development of Morocco despite all these obstacles. The best proof I can give you to illustrate the success of women entrepreneurship in Morocco is “Khmissa prize” which is awarded annually to Moroccan women leaders in five areas including enterprise development.
I can think of Nouzha Mkinsi, CEO of La Compagnie Générale Immobilière, who won the prize in the "enterprise development" category, in the 2007 Khmissa event held in Marrakech. Another female leader I can think of is Zoubida Charrouf, professor in Mohammed V-Agdal University of Sciences in Rabat, who won the country’s 2004 Khmissa prize for “social action and development.” I remember Charrouf was named for her work in setting up women’s Argan oil “processing cooperatives” in south-west Morocco, near Agadir, a poor region characterized by an arid environment. Thanks to these kinds of cooperatives, poor Berber women are able to gain an income from producing and selling high quality Argan oil for the cosmetic and food markets.
Thanks to entrepreneurship, many Moroccan women benefit from self-employment and consider it as an opportunity for higher earnings. But why do they make this choice? Well, I believe these women decide to be self-employed because of the different personal, economic and retirement goals they set for themselves resulting from diverse expectations and aspirations. Also, self-employment—through entrepreneurship—allows many women entrepreneurs to help increase their family income especially when facing changed circumstances in their households (a new baby, husband’s death, etc). I can think of another benefit of self-employment which is to help women entrepreneurs find the type of job they really desire, especially for those women—of whom there are many—who have been trapped for years in fields that they are not really interested in.
Finally, I believe that entrepreneurship has enabled Moroccan women to increase their self-esteem and use their entrepreneurial potential in order to eliminate gender barriers and to eradicate gender discrimination in social and administrative institutions. According to the World Bank, investing in gender equality and empowerment of women is smart economics. And I believe the Moroccan government and society are “smart” enough to support women’s entrepreneurship and encourage women’s entrepreneurial initiatives.