Morocco’s young entrepreneurs face barriers



This article was published Al Jazeera on Dec. 27, 2014 . Read it HERE.

Morocco – Ali Aaouine had no job but one big dream; to start a rental car company in this town near the historic city of Fez.

In 2011, the 30-year-old joined a US-supported government programme called Moukawalati or “My Small Business”. This initiative was designed to help young Moroccans write business plans and get low interest loans.

Despite completing the programme and receiving a certificate, Aaouine couldn’t get a loan because of a lack of credit and assets.

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Nejwa Issa: Girlhood in a traditional village

The village of Sbaa Rouadi, outside of Fes, Morocco, is one of tradition and beauty. Photographer Emma Hohenstein shadowed the Issa family for a week. Nejwa Issa, third child of Hakeema and Mohammed Issa, is exactly what one would expect from a nine-year-old: boisterous, rowdy, and care-free. However, she deals with the challenges of societal and familial expectations of a young woman, on a daily basis. This series seeks to display both her enthusiasm and freedom, as well as the impending challenges of being a woman in Sbaa Rouadi and Morocco.

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Hamid’s Bride


SBAA ROUADI, Morocco – Zwiina? Is she beautiful? The question ricocheted through the mass of wedding-goers, each pressing to get a glimpse of the veiled figure as she emerged from a large white van. Through a break in the crowd, a parade of men made their way into the house, laden with bulky plastic containers overflowing with the bride’s belongings. Last in the procession, 16-year-old Fatima Zahra el Rhioui arrived at her husband’s house for the first time.

“He’s very nice,” el Rhioui commented, grinning nervously at the mention of her husband and exposing symmetrical buckteeth.

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Shattering Stereotypes By Breaking Waves


RABAT, Morocco – “My favorite color is black, like my eyes,” Oumaima Erhali, 17, said with a smile as she drew in the sand with her untied, muddy skate shoes. As the ocean breeze tickled her face, she tightened the strings that held a black hood over her head and slid a shell into the cargo pocket of her Hawaiian-printed board shorts.

Erhali doesn’t cook with her family, because she’s too busy spicing up her shoes with sand. She also doesn’t wear a hijab, even though she’s a dedicated Muslim.

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