5 Minutes of Inspiration: From Disbelief to Entrepreneurship

5 Minutes of Inspiration: From Disbelief to Entrepreneurship


Women in Morocco long held back by cultural norms and traditions said, “At first, we didn’t believe what CARE proposed.” Find out what changed their minds.

By Emily Janoch

For far too long, women in countries around the globe have been refused resources, opportunities, and skill-building to reach their full potential. For these reasons, CARE prioritizes women’s economic empowerment and entrepreneurship worldwide.

Alamal Alyedfalyed said, “At first we didn’t believe what CARE proposed. Most of us wore veils and never left the house. Before the CARE project came, we knew how to do income generating activities, but our tradition taught us not to value them.” At the end of the project, evaluators said, “CARE and its partner REMESS helped women develop a spirit of creativity and entrepreneurship.” As a result, women are creating independent businesses with money they raise themselves.

The Village Savings and Loan Association project in Morocco ran from 2014-2016 with a little over $600,000 from the Société General Foundation and in partnership with the Moroccan Network for Social and Economic Solidarity (REMESS) and the Women’s Economic and Social Empowerment Network in Eastern Morocco. It reached about 2,000 people directly. As a result, women owned more businesses, gained equality, and felt more empowered.

Women entrepreneurs as role models in Morocco

What did we accomplish?

  • Women owned more businesses: Women in VSLAs were 17 times more likely to own their own businesses after the program. 450 individual women and 116 collectives started new businesses and created jobs for women.
  • Women got more equality: 79 percent of women said they got more equality, and 77 percent said their social positions improved — including better access to food at home, more ability to make decisions, and better access to resources.
  • Families were more independent and better fed: There was a 74 percent decrease in the number of families who had to borrow money in order to eat.
  • Women got more involved in leadership and government: 41 percent of women said they were more able to participate in dialogues with public officials. The Ministry of Artisans and Social Economy now invites VSLA groups to participate in fairs, consultations, and other events.
  • Women are more mobile: One local government official told us, “I was surprised to see men allow their wives to leave the house for three days to participate in a trade fair the women organized themselves with CARE’s support.”
Syrian woman entrepreneur


How did we get there?

  • Set up VSLAs: The project supported 56 VSLA groups with more than 1,000 members. It also helped women create 21 cooperatives to have better market power and access. CARE VSLAs are comprised of 10-25 people who save together and take small loans from those savings, providing members with basic financial services and skills to upscale their economic activities.
  • Build skills: The project provided literacy classes for 640 women, and support in business skills.
  • Support businesses: 31 businesses got extra support from the project out of 50 options that communities proposed. Women also set up trade fairs to showcase their work and sell their products with support from CARE.
  • Learn from each other: CARE Niger went to Morocco to provide a training on Engaging Men and Boys so that Morocco could broaden its model from working with just women.

Want to learn more?

Read the final evaluation (in French) or check out Stories of Change for a look at CARE’s success on women’s economic empowerment. Learn more about CARE's campaign for women's economic empowerment here

Take Action with CARE Action

Our work to invest in women globally has reached a critical point thanks to CARE advocates. The Women's Entrepreneurship and Economic Empowerment Act of 2018  passed the House of Representatives, and was introduced in the Senate. Now we must build support and recruit cosponsors to see this key piece of legislation become law.

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