Project Snapshot

  • Project: Women’s Empowerment through Sustainable Entrepreneurship (WESE)
  • Objective: Grow the ability of rural women to be independent and participate in economic life by helping them to be more proactive technically including managing Village Savings & Loan Associations, and by improving access to existing companies and cooperatives run by women in local, national and/or international markets, access to financial services, and access to business development support programs.
  • Groups targeted: 1) Marginalized rural women with low incomes and their individual or collective microenterprises, and 2) Established individual or collective enterprises in rural areas run by women (total: 3,040 women)
  • Where: In four communes in the Marrakesh-Safi region of Morocco
  • Duration: May 2018 to March 2023

The situation

As seen in many countries, poverty in Morocco primarily afflicts people living in rural areas, and women in particular. Women participate in the economic life of their community and region, but remain imprisoned in sectors that offer precarious working conditions. This is caused by many factors, such as the traditional delay in education for girls, job discrimination, division of labor in families, restricted opportunities, and the assignment of menial housekeeping tasks to women.  Also, women engaged in an economic activity often do not benefit from the profits resulting from that activity. In most cases, their spouse or guardian keep the profits generated by female labor. This all means that women have very limited access to entrepreneurship. Only 0.6% of working women succeed in creating their own business. Women in Morocco are therefore now increasingly committed to social and solidarity economics, to permit them to contribute to gainful, income generating activities.

The lessons learned throughout the process of implementing other CARE initiatives shows that women are keen to set up businesses or boost their own, or their existing cooperatives, but they are encountering problems in creating their businesses mainly due to lack of access to financing, lack of technical and commercial capabilities, lack of support from the private sector, lack of market knowledge and skills, and lack of confidence, in addition to other social obstacles. These obstacles to women's economic independence flow from widespread and deeply anchored cultural norms that restrict their ability to act and decide, as well as from negative stereotyping by institutional players who restrict women's access to business development services. Consequently, women-run businesses are generally smaller and slower-growing, are more risk-averse, and operate mainly in "traditionally female" sectors, such as crafts and small-scale food processing.

What we are doing

Through the WESE project, funded by the Government of Canada, CARE

  • Supports the creation of Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLA) known to have an impact at various levels: political, economic, social and individual. (Sophie Chassot, 2017 "Micro-savings and economic development: women on the road to equality" CARE France)
  • Fill the gaps in women's personal knowledge and skills (technical skills in how to set up and grow a business, and personally in how to assess their own motivation and ability to engage in business as women), as well as that of players generally in the entrepreneurial ecosystem in rural Morocco.
  • Challenge social norms and perceptions (gender-based stereotypes) that affect how women are able to become entrepreneurs in the Marrakesh-Safi region, primarily by promoting collective action by women and men and encouraging them to rethink gender relationships and break through society's stereotypes of masculinity and femininity, and actively engage men and members of the community to play a key role in striving for greater gender equality.
  • Work with public officials at regional level and non-governmental agencies to raise awareness of the specific needs of women and indirectly boost women’s' control of their resources and profits.

Project Targets

Help give women a fairer say in decision-making regarding their personal or collective business ventures.

Help give greater urgency to addressing gender issues in business development.

Help to engage communities, particularly men, to support women's rights and to demolish the gender stereotypes (in the public and private sphere) hindering female entrepreneurship.

By touching:

7,455 individuals directly:

  • 3,040 in rural areas (1,312 women entrepreneurs in 40 targeted cooperatives, 1,440 future women members of 72 VSLAs which will be created as part of the project, and 288 women working at a cooperative to be integrated into a VSLA).
  • 4,383 community members (2,191 men and 2,192 women);
  • 320 business-supportive institutions and civil-society associations.

Some 20,000 individuals indirectly:

  • 3,883 women, 3,747 men, 3,000 young women, 3,000 young men, 3,000 girls and 3,200 boys.