VENTURES AFRICA – Entrepreneurship is the answer. That is the motif that the Moroccan government has adopted as it squares up to its unemployment problem, with it looking to make it easier for youths to start a business and create their own jobs.
Unemployment in Morocco stands at around 9 percent. Abdelilah Benkirane, the head of government, has declared on several occasions that young people should not count on employment being provided for them in the public sector. Self-employment and entrepreneurism have by all accounts become central to the governmental programme, according to Employment Minister Abdelouahed Souhail, who said the government was looking to tackle the problems faced by young people setting up their own businesses.
“It has proved difficult for a job-seeker to become his own employer,” he said. “Added to these difficulties are the training system and attitudes which do not encourage the entrepreneurial spirit. Morocco has already experimented with providing substantial funding for young entrepreneurs, but it had its shortcomings.”
Economist Ahmed Ramizi said that for self-employment to work, the state needs to set up incentives both in terms of technical and fiscal support measures.
Some young people think this new direction is a positive step that could lift the spectre of unemployment. Samira Chentoufi, 25, has been unemployed for four years, with her business management degree not enabling her to find work in either the private or public sectors. She is thinking seriously about setting up a project of her own, and is glad that she may be able to obtain both technical and financial help from the government.
“Of course I’m making my plans with great apprehension,” she says. “But I have to move forward if I’m to escape the horrors of unemployment.” Her idea is to provide businesses and public administration offices with catering for their staff.
“The idea seems simple. But I know it will need a carefully thought-out study and the necessary finance. With the disappearance of a set lunch hour, I believe my plan could work well,” she said.
Others have greeted the news with scepticism, suggesting that people are less concerned with being self-employed as with just managing to become employed at all. Hamid El Ouazzani, 27, has a degree in commerce but has been unemployed for three years. He believes that most younger people would rather be employees rather than take entrepreneurial risks, regardless of government cajoling.
“Even if they were to give me the necessary finance, I could never be my own employer,” he said. “Like many young people, I’m frightened by the idea. I prefer to work in a business as a salesperson, rather than throwing myself into the entrepreneurial adventure.”
Sociologist Samira Kassimi believes that self-employment is a virtue that must be promoted from an early age, by encouraging children to develop their own initiative, if it is to become a serious desire amongst young Moroccans. At the moment, she believes, the educational system combined with the culture of society does not help young people take a risk and attempt the entrepreneurial adventure.
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