Coaching to help Moroccan women get ahead
“Trust is a core value between clients and the institution’s staff,” says Larbi Lahjouji, head of Attadamoune Micro-Finance’s branch network. The firm’s employees work hard to build close relationships with clients, Lahjouji says. Ennabali has come to know the head of her local Attadamoune Micro-Finance branch well. Her latest micro-loan, which she used to buy her shop, isn’t the first one the institution gave her.
Non-financial services offered by micro-finance firms enable entrepreneurs to get advice and professional support in developing and implementing business plans. Small businesses and entrepreneurs have a hard time finding this type of help. The European Investment Bank has a long history of encouraging micro-finance and providing advisory services to entrepreneurs in Africa and other parts of the world, because small companies are the backbone of most economies.
A €63 000 technical assistance grant from the European Investment Bank’s Financial Inclusion Fund enabled Attadamoune Micro-Finance to develop a “post-crisis entrepreneurship motivator” programme. From 2020 to 2022, this programme helped 450 female entrepreneurs, including Ennabali, receive training in e-commerce. As the coronavirus pandemic forced people to stay home, this programme helped female-led businesses stay in touch with clients. This especially helps entrepreneurs in Morocco, where personal relations are an important feature in daily life.
The Financial Inclusion Fund is a trust fund managed by EIB Global, the development arm of the European Investment Bank. Contributions to EIB trust funds are made mostly by EU countries. EIB Global uses these contributions to provide grants, technical support and other financial assistance in dozens of countries to help climate action, social infrastructure, digitalisation, financial inclusion and innovation.
The Financial Inclusion Fund supports vulnerable groups in developing countries. Luxembourg is the first contributor to the Fund, putting up nearly €7million so far to help Africa, the Caribbean and Pacific states, as well as the region known as the EU southern neighbourhood — countries such as Jordan, Lebanon and Tunisia in North Africa and the Near East. This fund also supports gender equality, entrepreneurship and digitalisation.
“It is very satisfying to see the effects of these grants on beneficiaries,” says Cristiana Finotti, a technical assistance expert at EIB Global. “They build resilience to economic shocks, such as the turmoil created by the COVID-19.”
Moroccan women go online for growth
Through the entrepreneurship motivator programme in Morocco, 100 female clients from Attadamoune Micro-Finance received coaching to develop an online business plan. The women learned how to use the Internet to reach a new audience and even export crafts and services. This coaching was especially beneficial during the pandemic. Attadamoune Micro-Finance will now expand the e-commerce training and coaching programme to reach 2 500 women.
The programme helps women to be taken more seriously in the business community and gives them a better chance of receiving loans from traditional banks. This in turn opens new horizons. Take Fatiha Boularf, also an entrepreneur in Meknes who completed Attadamoune’s training programme and works as a negafa, a “guardian” organising traditional Moroccan wedding ceremonies. She provides jewellery and other accessories for women to wear at weddings. Using the e-commerce training, she increased her income and expanded her business internationally. ”My dream after working in different cities in my country is to eventually work abroad,” she says.