The Rabat Entrepreneurial Challenge, an ALA student initiative

The Rabat Entrepreneurial Challenge (REC) commenced in December 2009 when Jihad Hajouji, African Leadership Academy student, revealed her idea to four fellow ALA students: Hafsa Anouar, Kamelia Lechani, Kaoutar Raj, and Salma Ait Hssayene. The project functions as a summer training program that introduces the idea of entrepreneurship to a select group of high school students. The REC team, with the indispensable aid of Hind Ourhou, Souhail Wardi, Ziyad Elmouniri, and Zakia Stili, immediately began to realize the program, working on recruitment, curriculum design, fundraising, and other tasks.

After five months of continuous hard work, deliberation and sustained communication between teams in Morocco and South Africa, the Rabat Entrepreneurial Challenge finally saw light on June 21, 2010. The event was kindly hosted by the National Institute for Youth and Democracy, and sponsored by the British Council and Amideast/AYUSA International with additional support from Forum des Jeunes Marocains and Association Jazz ¾.

Around 20 youth, male and female, aged between 15 and 19 years old participated in the six-day event. Each day had a specific theme, starting with “What does it mean to be an entrepreneur?” Other days focused on Identifying the Need; Designing a solution; Implementation; Sustainability, and finally “The entrepreneurial challenge!”

Even after the event ended, the participants continued their work. One project, to teach students how to initiate community service projects, is just now going through a trial phase in schools in Rabat, with the assistance of the Ministry of Youth and Sport.

Feedback from participants has shown that they became much more socially aware due to the REC and have continued to be active in their communities, with some participants organizing follow-on conferences in Rabat and Sale. Plans are underway for a second Rabat Entrepreneurial Challenge.