Big stage for social entrepreneurship
Self-employment and entrepreneurship allows people to develop economically and at the same time contribute to the development of their respective societies. This idea is at the heart of the incubation programme "IBDA3 LAB" (Innovation Lab), which the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom launched in 2021 together with local partners in Morocco.
In Morocco, entrepreneurship is not a niche but mainstream. More than 70% of all high school graduates can imagine being self-employed or starting a business. At universities, students are more likely to discuss business ideas or funding programmes than the design of their CVs or interesting job advertisements. However, the general focus of young people on self-employment is often not based on an enthusiasm for risk and innovation, but primarily on a difficult labour market situation. The Youth unemployment rate was above 30% in 2023. Against this backdrop, there is sometimes a lack of entrepreneurial creativity in Morocco. Founders orientate themselves on what they find on the market and copy existing business models, often with limited success.
Social entrepreneurs, i.e. young people who also want to contribute to the political, ecological or social change of their country in the course of their self-employment, are often an exception in this respect. The projects of these founders can take the form of an NGO, cooperative or an enterprise, but they are usually creative and solve a societal problem.
The Moroccan state is aware of the entrepreneurial potential of its youth and therefore offers a whole range of support programmes. In most cases, these programmes offer financial support. However, budding entrepreneurs often lack expertise, soft skills and guidance.
This is where the foundation comes in with IBDA3 LAB. Participants in the programme go through a series of boot camps on all basic topics such as business plans, financing, market research and pitches to investors. In addition, there is individual coaching and an intensive exchange with the other programme participants, among whom a close-knit and helpful community is regularly formed.
This was also more than evident at the most recent closing ceremony, when the 16 participants representing 13 projects of the 2023 edition of the programme presented their business ideas to an audience of investors, alumni and entrepreneurs. The big show of pitches covered a whole range of topics for those in attendance.
Salma Houach, for example, presented her already successfully tested idea of producing heating briquettes and candles from coffee grinds ("Coffeburn") - a contribution to avoiding waste and potentially reducing emissions by more than one million tons a year in Morocco. El Ghali Ouali Alami and Ahmed Abdeljalil are tackling the extremely low rate of blood donors in Morocco and want to ensure high-yield blood donations with the non-profit project "Digi Blood". Lina Hammoumi is developing a digital reading device in Braille for visually impaired people ("3winati") and hopes to make a contribution to accessibility in Morocco and beyond.
These are just three out of the thirteen projects that were accompanied as part of the IBDA3 LAB 2023 incubation programme. Despite all their differences, they all have in common that they can serve as role models for other young people in the country and hopefully encourage them to seriously pursue their own creative ideas. Several alumni of the past two editions have now successfully realised their ideas, received investment funds of over 1.400.000 MAD (equivalent to 140.000 €) and created around 30 jobs with their studios, recycling plants or online platforms.
All ideas and laureates can be found at www.ibda3lab.com. Emerging entrepreneurs in Morocco should also watch out for the call of applications for the 2024 edition.