The Entrepreneurial Profile of Morocco, published in December 2023 by EiNA, the African Development Bank and the Moroccan Ministry of Economy and Finance, pays particular attention to the situation of Moroccan entrepreneurs and the challenges they face.
The Assafae association for sustainable development is one providing concrete assistance to entrepreneurs, particularly women, in the Drâa Tafilalet region, south of the Atlas Mountains.
Founded in 2000, the association focuses on the economic inclusion of women. It supports them in developing their professional and managerial skills, so that they are better able to engage in income-generating activities. It currently employs eleven people and several volunteers.
The target clientele is mostly rural women, often with little education. The association supports them in traditional activities such as handcraft, sewing, cooking, catering and domestic work, but also ensures that they can use modern, digital technologies to expand their market.
Market access is an important issue for these women, who come from a rather isolated geographical environment, with difficult access to the country's main urban and peri-urban areas. The digitalization of sales processes becomes even more important in this context.
Support for the women starts from the project's inception right through to its implementation.
The association directs beneficiaries towards financing organizations and supports them in their administrative procedures at the regional and national level. It puts them in touch with the main players involved in supporting entrepreneurs, including the Agence nationale de promotion de l'emploi et des compétences (Anapec), Ana Moukawil, Forsa and the Initiative nationale pour le développement humain (INDH).
The association also offers training in marketing, customer loyalty, packaging, and sales. It helps these women entrepreneurs to take part in trade fairs, where they can present their products to a wider public and find new outlets and new customers.
Assafae supports around 150 projects a year, representing some 200 women, to whom it awards a diploma.
One of the association's major challenges is to help women move beyond survival production and generate permanent jobs. This requires better integration into the value chains of the local and regional economy, and greater synergy between different players in the ecosystem (training organizations, public players, businesspeople, experts in different fields).
The association also works on changing mindsets. First and foremost, among women, by instilling in them the right reflexes in terms of business conduct, but also among men. For the past two years, it has been organizing awareness-raising workshops for the spouses of women entrepreneurs, to help them better understand the issues and challenges of female entrepreneurship. Given the success of these workshops, Assafae plans to organize others in 2024, this time for the benefit of families.
Looking at the results, Assafae is proud of its action: in addition to training women in entrepreneurship, the association counts among its beneficiaries’ women who have made their way into local, regional, and even national politics. Which just goes to show that entrepreneurship opens new horizons.