On July 10, 2019, the Laâyoune Learning Center (LLC) hosted a showcase that featured the projects of seven local entrepreneurs who participated in the 2018 PIA Co-Design Summit (CDS) in Laâyoune last November and the Incubation Course. The showcase event was held in collaboration with the Phosboucraa Foundation, which invested in the program as part of its overall strategy to promote youth entrepreneurship. See live footage from the event here.
The projects featured in the showcase spanned a wide range of sectors, including education, marketing, IT, and recycling. In showcasing their business ventures, the entrepreneurs thoroughly discussed their market research findings, value propositions, and chosen business models. They concluded the course by showcasing their market test plans, which will be carried out in the upcoming months. “Over the course of the last several months, I have been coming up with so many ideas for the communal space that I want to develop for women in Laayoune. I have now finally narrowed them down and can’t wait to start testing my assumptions in the market,” said Lanaad Elkentaoui, one of the seven local entrepreneurs who participated in the showcase.
Other entrepreneurs already have their businesses set up and were looking to innovate and reach new market segments. “I used to just respond to demands as a tailor or follow a very specific type of product. Now I come up with new ideas all the time. I started to see opportunities more. I am more aware of occasions where more can be sold. I used to look at things from one perspective and now I see things from multiple perspectives,” remarked Akhiar Ennas Essemlali.
In addition to the general public, the audience included key local actors from Laâyoune’s entrepreneurship ecosystem. Many of those actors also attended the 2018 PIA CDS, where they engaged with these same entrepreneurs at an earlier phase in their projects’ development. During the showcase, the ecosystem actors were invited to follow-up on their earlier engagement with the entrepreneurs, presenting them with feedback and advice.
The showcase marks the end of a three-month entrepreneurship course, delivered over 12 weeks from April to June 2019 for a total of 75 hours of instruction, co-developed by MIT D-Lab and the instruction team. The course blended rigorously tested entrepreneurship lessons with dynamic co-design methods that build on the CDS curriculum. The course sought to help the entrepreneurs incubate their ideas and move them steps closer to testing their business plans in the market. Parallel to the entrepreneurship module, the participants also took part in a personal development program designed by the LLC staff.
The course was delivered by instructors from the LLC and facilitators from the 2018 Co-Design Summit, who gained an opportunity to practice the design rhythm both in teaching and designing the curriculum in collaboration with MIT D-Lab. The LLC intends to incorporate this course into a larger incubation program aimed at catalyzing promising entrepreneurial talent in Laâyoune. But the instructors don’t want to stop there. Salaheddine Moutacharif, one of the facilitators trained in D-Lab’s methodology during the Creative Capacity Building (CCB) Training that preceded the PIA Co-Design Summit, remarked, “Designing the course has increased my confidence in the codesign method. Ultimately, I want to pilot a year-long program for entrepreneurs in different cities across the country to expand the network of talented people using co-design in Morocco.”
-- Fatema Alhashemi, MIT D-Lab 2019 M&E Fellow
Fatema traveled to Laâyoune as a M&E Fellow to conduct an independent evaluation of the November Co-Design Summit. MIT D-Lab is committed to impact and following PIA Co-Design Summits evaluates training, participant mindset, and network outcomes from the event immediately following and 6-months after the event. Fatema’s visit to Laâyoune was part of this 6-month follow-up evaluation, the outcomes of which will be shared later this Fall.