Ouissal: the German-Arab Mentoring Project

Africa, here we go again. I am happily appointed to OUISSAL, a female German-Arab network and therefore will be in Casablanca to take part in the opening in the beginning of October.

Ouissal in English roughly means “bridge” or “connection”. Therefore, it perfectly embodies the goal of the German-Arab Mentoring Project of the EMA: the interactive exchange between experienced women, the development of a sustainable business idea in intercultural mentor-protégée tandems and the strengthening of an interdisciplinary German-Arab women’s network.

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The program brings together 15 German and 15 Moroccan female entrepreneurs. One year I will collaborate in the network on business development projects. This is done in tandem in which an entrepreneur as a sparring partner and mentor for an entrepreneur from the other country involved.

In August, everything went very quickly after the commitment. To kick-off, I traveled last week to Casablanca, Morocco. Quickly I realized but the challenges for women entrepreneurs on both sides are as similar: financing of start-ups as a woman, expansion strategies and use of own resources between job, family and, where appropriate, work in associations. The positive energy of the clerics, to each other support, combined with the will to shape a piece of the world, was contagious.

Shared with me, quite wonderful, inspiring women at Ouissal here, including Nicole Mai, co- founder of SAAL ZWEI, Lena Johanna Schmitt, trainer (IHK), business coach at Schmitt & Partner and co-founder of the interdisciplinary women network of venture ladies, Dr. Petra Seisl, founder of the network of women womenizing, Katrin Strohmaier as communications and project manager, and HR consultant Ines Mokrani.

Now we work in german Moroccan tandems over the next 12 months via Skype, google docs and Facebook groups to our business development projects. In November 2016, there will be a closing ceremony in Berlin with all participants and with the award of the most successful project. All German participants at all events at the end of the week was clear: Moroccan women take their chances, they help shape the change in the country.
The courage of my mentee Laila Berchane impressed me. At the beginning of the year, she founded the Playgound Academy, an open space for children & young adults. It aims, through the use of LEGO serious play and LEGO MINDSTORM, early skills to the collaborate and interact to promote the team. On the one hand, it offers courses at various schools in all Casablanca, at night and on the weekends children & parents wait in long lines eager opens the doors of open spaces. Locally, I attended some workshops, observed practices and learning outcomes of children. The playful access through LEGO as well as the empathic presence of Laila and her team is something special. In the coming months, we will jointly review the business model with regard to the needs of users, develop questions and collaboratively develop, and find our project here!

A bientot!