**Morocco is launching a project to enhance the digital skills of small business owners**
Magharebia, by Hassan Benmehdi (Casablanca, Morocco, Oct. 11, 2012) — Morocco just initiated the “Infitah for Her” programme encouraging small businesses to use information technology.
Female-owned small businesses constitute the base of the solidarity economy in Morocco. Many families live thanks to these mothers, widows and divorcées who undertake a number of small projects.
“Infitah for Her” is an integral part of the Infitah programme launched last May. The project’s goal is to ensure the livelihood of these small women-owned businesses by giving them sufficient and adequate support.
Last September in Rabat, just outside the programme’s launching ceremony, Moroccan Minister of Industry, Trade and New Technologies Abdelkader Aâmara spoke to Magharebia about Infitah for Her, stating it was an ambitious programme intended exclusively for women entrepreneurs.
“This programme incites these women to use digital technology as a way to modernise their business and create job opportunities,” the minister said.
This new programme is the result of a partnership between the government and the National Agency for the Promotion of Small and Middle sized Enterprises (ANPME). Its goal is to have female-owned businesses utilise the Infitah programme to its full potential by specifically targeting women entrepreneurs, who then receive free training in information technology and eventually obtain a digital license that gives them access to the Infitah for Her package.
This preferential offer includes a laptop, a 12-month internet connection and a billing solution at a subsidised price – up to 30% of the initial package price.
The digital license also entitles them to advantageous and preferential offers in terms of equipment and computer solutions as well as financing.
ANPME Director Latifa Chihabi said the 2,500 licenses delivered so far were impressive but the process must be sped up. “We are launching two other initiatives today: the ‘Infitah for Her’ as well as agreement signings with private telecom providers and training programmes,” Chihabi added.
Since its launch back in May, the Infitah programme has welcomed over 2,700 businesses and hosted over 222 training sessions.
The government’s financial support comes down to about 30% while most people involved ask for 50% for a better modernisation of the organisation.
Najat Zineddine, who enjoys the benefits of the Infitah programme, believes in its importance for the organisation of integrating new information technologies: “This gave me an opportunity to open up and introduce my food processing business to the market,” she said.
In Morocco, companies managed by women make up 10% of the economic fabric. Fouad Benseddik, a member of the Social and Economic Board, said that a field study showed that Morocco could increase its gross domestic product by 30% if only female business owners would receive a better legal and economic protection.