Why Social Entrepreneurship in Morocco is Getting Harder to Do? And what is the Current Debate?

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Why Social Entrepreneurship in Morocco is Getting Harder to Do? And what is the Current Debate?

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Why Social Entrepreneurship in #Morocco is Getting Harder to do? http://bit.ly/19b2anH And what is the debate? #socent #socialearth

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Monday, August 26, 2013 - 10:15am


According to the Moroccan Center for Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship, Social Entrepreneurship is “to find innovative entrepreneurial solutions that meet social needs of a community in order to create systemic change” (MCISE, personal communication, 2012). It would be also edifying to make a definitional reference to social entrepreneurship as the creation of innovative solutions to persistent social problems via the application of the creativity and imagination of entrepreneurship for social good, rather than private wealth creation (Brett, 2008).

Yet, social entrepreneurship could mean different things to different people. It could mean an organization that starts for-profit and ends non-profit. Some would believe that social entrepreneurs are those business owners who simply integrate social responsibility in their operations (Dees, 1998). Nevertheless, entrepreneurship, regardless of all its varieties, has demanded an articulate predicament between the definite premise of business operations and their actionable engagement within social measures; either by modeling a global social responsibility or sculpting a social change framework.

Social Entrepreneurship is a phenomenon. The applications, strategies, and even the preparations for becoming a social entrepreneur are themselves manifestations this new mindset: Thinking Business and Acting Social! Yet, in different parts of the world, this new impressive attitude is positioned in concrete practices resulting in the establishment of local approaches that address local social issues. Based on this, it would be edifying to state that the world has already focused on FOUR actors (social entrepreneurs), entities (social business/enterprises), social change (social innovation and social impact) and on Scalability.

Several publications have been focusing on listing the main actors of social entrepreneurship in the world while neglecting the internal factors that truly determine these actors. The aim of this article is not to list the very names of these actors in Morocco but to mainly present to the reader the very internal elements that should be the main focus before listing of actors. Now the point is that: How do we define these notions and through which school are we doing this in Morocco?

In its primitive step, one missing link in introducing social entrepreneurship knowledge and practices in Morocco is the lack of the critical eye and the operational application of this criticism. To progressively appreciate the attempts in refining the knowledge on social entrepreneurship, we notice the absence of a local characterization of social entrepreneurship in Morocco.  And so, what are the missing parts, the obstacles and topics to be debated as ways to solve it out?

In my experience as a Trainer and Head of Research and Studies at the Moroccan Center for Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship – Moroccan CISE (www.mcise.org) there are seven different, but interconnected critical issues that i think should be the focal point of discussion in Morocco at this moment:

1) Because of different characterizations of Social Entrepreneurship in the world, Morocco is adapting a non-standardized reflection on the knowledge which is resulting in locally complicating the field, and hence there is no Moroccan School of Social Entrepreneurship.

2) One of the problematic issues in studying social entrepreneurship in Morocco can be seen in its relativity. It has been clear that the majority of Moroccan authors (especially French speaking Moroccans) would analyze social entrepreneurship by always making reference to both non-Moroccan entrepreneurship theories and social theories; separately. And so there is the inability to talk about social entrepreneurship as a complete theory in Morocco that stands by and for itself in a complete format.

3) There are many linguistic barriers of what social entrepreneurship would translate into many languages such as Arabic. In my experience as a trainer and lecturer on SE in Morocco, I have always found it hard to introduce this new knowledge to the Moroccan context because there exists no Arabic translation of SE in dictionaries. This has resulted in pushing Moroccan scholars adapt western theories of SE which are not compatible with local context. Consider for e.g. the difference between Entrepreneurship and Enterprise in the English language. In Arabic when people want to translate entrepreneurship they use the Arabic expression of ENTERPRISE and we all know that the two notions are different in French or English.

4) Outside Morocco, researchers and practitioners are debating on standard ways that social entrepreneurs use to measure their SROI – Social Return on Investment. But in Morocco there are no reached levels in debating on what i can call SSI – Standard Social Impact.

4) There is no direct collaboration between NGOs active in the field of social entrepreneurship and the role of government institutions. One point would be about the legal status and structure of initiatives referred to as social businesses or social enterprises.

5) As Morocco seems a high power distance country ( G. Hofstede, 2001) it has been clear since then that not anyone is able to introduce a knowledge especially if this latter is about socio-economic, cultural and societal changes. Age, social status, and academic background are three important elements for an individual to proceed in this mission. Still, in my experience no one ever existed with this Moroccan-based perfect profile. What one could notice is that people active in this field are still young and do not enjoy such an accepted, respected and expected profile. Hence, who is introducing the knowledge on social entrepreneurship in Morocco?

6) In academia, the majority of Moroccan researchers use the French language as a means to their review of literature and fieldwork. This has proven to limit the individual-researcher from the updates on the other approaches related to social entrepreneurship. Most Moroccan researchers confuse the notion of ‘social entrepreneurship’ with social enterprise; social business; social initiatives; co-operatives and others.

7) Because of these, Moroccan national culture should also have its marge of attention. Scaling up Social Innovation has to also cater for the cultural specificities in Morocco while attempting to apply new ideas and replicating novel systems. For e.g:

  • Microcredit: It started with Grameen Bank in Bangladesh (1976). In Morocco, with Zakoura Association (1995) it was launched by an Association and not by a bank. The minimum amount Mohammed Yunus started with is 27$. Yet, now that this strategy is shifted to banks in Morocco where the minimum microcredit is 3000 MAD = approximately 300$; which is still not accessible to poor in Morocco. And so are we using Yunisian notion of Microcredit?
  • Micro-Franchising, i.e. Fan Milk ltd in Ghana, appears to complete the gaps of microcredit in terms of reducing two orbs of risks: the lack any entrepreneurial knowledge of the poor after the provision of credits and the burden of loans. In Morocco, with Penguin Ice Cream and perhaps with Iwashi Fish (this is in case both businesses are aware of Micro-Franchising) micro-franchisees do not benefit from these facilities. In fact, they still suffer from the lack of entrepreneurial knowledge as the company provides no trainings or ‘accompagnement’. They also start the business with no loan from the company; all from their own pocket.
  • Micro-Consignment Model, as with projects applied in Guatemala by Greg Van Kirk, appears to stop the whole chain of failure by providing the poor with a chance to become a micro-entrepreneur with direct access to products and not to credit. This can reduce the risk of not selling; hence, creates a business model in reverse. In Morocco, the MCM somehow reminiscently exists; but, it is both not appreciated by Moroccans, as a job, and still vague in academia.



Hamza El Fasiki

Hamza El Fasiki is author of two books: 'Social Entrepreneurship: Meaning, Challenges, and Strategies (2011) and ‘The Cultural Identity of Entrepreneurship: When Collectivism Rules’ (2013). He is Head of Research and Studies at the Moroccan Center for Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship. His cultural and entrepreneurship experiences stem from Morocco, USA, Algeria, Japan & Turkey. He is now a Musician ( Classical Guitar), Trainer and Consultant on social entrepreneurship & culture and entrepreneurship. He also delivers talks on social entrepreneurship in different national and international conferences and seminars. He lives in Fez Morocco

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Keywords: Volunteerism & Community Engagement | Morocco | Social Entrepreneurship | social earth