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The Female Entrepreneurs of Fondouk al Ghazal

byZineb Mellouki
onNovember 11, 2021

On September 28-29, 2021, a meeting took place between staff from the Legal Aid Clinic in Fes (Clinique Juridique de la Faculté de Droit – CJFD) and the community of the Fondouk Al Ghazal in Sefrou’s old medina. The law clinic aims to spread knowledge and awareness of legal rights and procedures for the local population. Its latest activities in Sefrou were based on a request from a number of local artisans needing assistance with an upcoming project and the promotion of their handicrafts.

Fourteen representatives of the artisan association met with legal clinic staff members: Basma Okbi, the Program Training Manager; Safae Bouhlala, the Program Manager for Finance and Administration; Legal Assistants Zineb Mellouki and Abdellah Aboudi; and Clinician Yahya Chaouni.

The meeting began with a presentation of the legal clinic by the staff members: highlights of the main fields of expertise of the CJFD, the legal aid provided, the assistance available to beneficiaries, the principles of the participatory approach, and the critical importance of free legal aid provided by the clinic.

“Legal awareness is a means of success, which enables me to access knowledge quickly,” noted Fatima, a traditional artisan.

This was followed by entrepreneurship training for the community of artisans about the basics of managing a business, tackling the different aspects of the field from the legal framework, the different clauses in the contract of an association, and marketing of artisanal products, especially strategies for digital marketing.

Throughout the training, the artisans were most interested in acquiring sufficient knowledge to support themselves in their work: boosting the demand for their products from the targeted customers, publicizing and promoting their products, and handling potential conflicts in the context of the association’s board, not to mention overcoming the consequences of the pandemic on the sector.

The meeting was also the occasion to introduce the associations and cooperatives in the region and their work in the multiple fields of artisanal handicrafts. Afterwards, an open discussion took place to brainstorm ideas, classify problems, and list the difficulties the community suffers from, such as the lack of communication between the artisans due to the differences of age and educational background. Their greatest concern is their insufficient awareness of marketing tools to facilitate promoting and publicizing their work.

“The problem of age prevents us from benefiting from financial aid by the state,” remarked Khadija, a traditional artisan, “This problem hinders us from continuing on the path of development of our cooperative.”

On the second day, student clinicians offered pro bono legal aid to the community members. They opened files and analyzed the beneficiaries’ different cases and issues. This, helping the local community develop and rise above the difficulties that interfere with their growth, is a central goal of the Legal Clinic in Fes.

Zineb Mallouki is a HAF Legal Aid Assistant for the Legal Aid Clinic at the Faculty of Law of University Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdellah in Fes, Morocco.

The Legal ClinicClinique Juridique de la Faculté de Droite (CJFD)is staffed by law students who provide pro bono legal assistance and capacity building opportunities for persons in need and civil society organizations in the Fes-Meknes region of Morocco. To date, it has assisted 64 people from 21 countries, primarily from the African continent, with legal matters related to migration, family, and entrepreneurship. CJFD is implemented by the High Atlas Foundation in partnership with FSJES-USMBA and is financed by the U.S.-Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED).

Learn more about the CJFD or ask for legal support here.
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