Magharebia (Washington DC)

Morocco Promotes Self-Employment

Rabat — The government is pushing the idea of self-employment but the fear of failure deters many young Moroccans from enterprise.

Morocco is working to make self-employment a more attractive option to its young people, Employment Minister Abdelwahed Souhail said on November 20th.

Since Abdelilah Benkirane came to power, entrepreneurship has been presented as a way of preventing unemployment among young graduates.

But the Moukawalati scheme, which is intended to help young people set up their own businesses, has not yet achieved its targets, Souhail said.

There is still room for many more beneficiaries.

"I'm scared of failing. I always thought I would be a public-sector worker or teacher. I can't imagine setting up a project on my own and succeeding. Fear is paralysing me in that respect," 32 year-old Saida El Badaoui told Magharebia.

El Badaoui graduated in Arabic literature ten years ago, but since then she has been unable to find a job. Although she has knocked the doors of many government and business offices, she has never considered starting her own business as an alternative.

Many like her have remained jobless for years without trying to implement a business plan of their own.

Politics graduate Amine Lambarbi, 35, is also unable to give up the idea of working within the civil service. His brother offered him funding for a project of his choice to enable him to finally find employment.

"Though it would be small, I wouldn't know how to manage the money and run a project. I've never learned how to do that. At no point as a student did anyone tell us how to manage funds and make forecasts," he said.

The Moroccan school system does not encourage a spirit of enterprise to help prepare young people to adapt to the realities of the job market and be creative, sociologist Zhor Chibani said.

There are also cultural factors, as the civil service has been viewed as a guarantee of social and professional stability for many years, she added.

"Unlike other societies which welcome initiatives from young people even if they fail, in Morocco, failure is not allowed and viewed in a dim light by society. Also, young people do not dare to be entrepreneurs and prefer to suffer unemployment," she said.

But on an optimistic note, Chibani also says that this situation is beginning to change as young parents increasingly understand the challenges of the world of work.

The younger generations have realised that the public sector cannot absorb all graduates and that they need to choose a training path so that they can get into the private sector as employees or small-scale entrepreneurs, political analyst Ahmed Bayani explained.

He said that the state is increasingly encouraging self-employment, but that the necessary support needs to be provided to young people to help them succeed and set an example to others who are still reluctant.

Employment Minister Souhail attributed some of the lack of support on bank financing. The minister said that dialogue with the banks and regional investment centres is essential if success is to be achieved in this area.

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