I had the chance to get a full scholarship & enroll as a pioneer in the Center for Philanthropy Studies in Basel University, Switzerland to learn Global Social Entrepreneurship.

Before joining the course, I had a dream… being a young striving African woman living in the city of Mohammedia, I dreamed to help the slums communities restore their dignity.

After my course at CEPS, my dream was no longer a dream; it became a structured vision, a plan then a reality!

Here are the 6 key learnings I have acquired through this Moroccan-Swiss journey:

Key learning N°1: We can only solve one problem at a time.

Indeed, before joining the course, I had noticed in my community different types of issues: gender discrimination, violence, illegal immigration, poverty, social marginalization of people with disabilities, illiteracy, socioeconomic exclusion of Mohammedia shanty towns’ NEETs and many more…

My dream was to create a social enterprise that would solve all of these problems and that was wrong!

Through the soft training at the university, the practical workshops in the field, the many site visits and my personal experience I’ve learned to sharpen my SE vision, therefore, I decided to focus on one problem at a time. This leads us to the 2nd key learning I have acquired.

Key learning N°2: Spend more resources in the beginning rather than later!

In 2016, I launched a promising innovative social business. The project idea was great, the funds were available but I spent very little time planning for it. Unfortunately, through the project implementation, side-effect problems kept popping up and I could have avoided them if I had planned it right from the beginning.

I have learned to turn the Path Dependency Theory into a practice; therefore, I would rather spend many resources in the project prompts (time, energy and expertise) rather than starting the project on the wrong foot. This leads us to the 3rd key learning.

 

 

Key learning N°3: Don’t copy and adapt, CREATE!

Since the end of the French protectorate in 1956, Morocco and the Moroccans were left with a specific social custom: copying the French institutional and daily life models! Indeed, the Moroccan government was bequeathed the constitution text in 1962, it was later adapted multiple times but barely met the reality of the citizens… Why? because it was adapted, not created!

This social phenomenon was translated through generations and ended up being anchored in our general sub-consciousness. It has become normal to “copy, vulgarize and adapt” European existing models to our local context and history has proven that this is not the best approach.

I learned that the co-creation is the only way we can better the Moroccan institutional models in order to better meet the needs of us all!

Key learning N°4: Oumaima, regulate your SRRN obsession!

The See-Results-Right-Now obsession is a phenomenon I have been suffering from my whole life.

However, during the forward-looking planning phases, we have decided as a team to sequence our work into 3 main phases:

Phase Number Designation Estimated time range
1 Co-creation session + entrepreneurship training (1st & 2nd pilots) 0 < t < 2 yrs
2 Create a physical safe space 2 < t < 4 yrs
3 Implement the income generating activities T > 4 yrs

 

Indeed, being able to overcome this obsession is a personal achievement and a key learning I have acquired.

Key learning N°5: Innovation is the means, not always the ends!

 

The ends of Impact project won’t reinvent the wheel but its means are innovative!

 

 

Indeed, the innovation I was able to participate to and learn from is the approach itself, not the project idea as a whole.

The project is classified as revolutionary because it is:

  • A new way of designing and creating a training program: they are co-created!
  • With a new target population: the NEETs from Mohammedia slums;

Key learning N°6: Cross-cultural team work is challenging yet fruitful!

5 people with 4 nationalities coming from 3 different countries with 2 standpoints (pioneer & explorers) working on 1 project was a challenging mission.

As for me, being the one on site I was brought to interact with every single team member on different aspect levels: human, technical, peer work, mission oriented…

Indeed, I have learned from this team management to accept the different perspectives, to build trust and to leverage cultural diversity as a key success factor and not to undergo it.

 

Appendix

Project Experienced Theory of Change Process

Project Experienced Theory of Change Process