I had the pleasure this week to speak at a panel organized by the Moroccan American Commission for Educational and Cultural Exchange (MACECE) for graduating MBA students from the Fox School of Business at Temple University in Philadelphia. Besides the honor of being part of high-profile panelists from large impact organizations (the Millennium Challenge Corporation, Stevens’ Initiative of the Aspen Institute; Women’s Artisans of Morocco Network), I took pleasure in sharing and discussing around development, education and impact. Here are the key take-aways:

  • Bold local initiatives by global investors: In achieving its march towards inclusive education for all, the Moroccan Ministry of Education benefits today from a 2.5 million USD grant by the Millenium Challenge Corporation targeted towards vocational training and capacity building programs to bridge the university-market gap across the country. Several hundreds of young Moroccans have been part of this high scale initiative which is running for the next two years. In a similar vein, another initiative, launched by the Aspen Institute, Stevens’ Initiative, and the Bezos Foundation, focuses on deploying a platform for on-line exchange program for public university students in Marrakech and Casablanca regions. Heavily based on the latest technological advances, this experience, although uncommon to both students and the educational body at large, remains an interesting and quite intriguing one.
  • New patterns for education of the future: The fourth industrial revolution is increasingly calling for revisiting business models across industries. Education is no exception. In a highly unsustainable world marked by stark and even more widening inequalities, novel educational models can and should be used to lift underprivileged economies up the ladder of development. A possible pathway for such a lift-up is the “leapfrogging” model from the grassroots up through social strata. In such models, technology plays a pivotal role in interconnecting excluded areas with top-notch educational programs across the globe. Learners pick and select their curricula according to their own, quick-win needs, to integrate an increasingly conscious job market of these new channels. Model fine-tuning is still required for African and some MENA region countries.
  • Stronger women, stronger societies: Female entrepreneurship is taking crisper shape in the Moroccan handicraft sector, with bottom-up initiatives organizing the industry in a self-emergent pattern. This association in Marrakech headed by a female artisan and employing a large number of women from the region voices some of the unspoken concerns/needs of handicraft female entrepreneurs: the right to express herself at both national and international instances, the right to generate income and to be independent, the right to exist as an essential and unequivocal pillar of society, not just as a spouse or a mother, but also as an agent of economic development.

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