Hanane Ait Ouakrim - Made in Morocco Morocco Virtual PFP Fellow
In March 2023, a group of artisans in Marrakech expanded their reach from the many passersby on the streets to the masses online. Leading this expansion is Hanane Ait Ouakrim, a Professional Fellows Program (PFP) Alumnus from the 2020 - 2021 virtual PFP Cohort. Hanane combined her astute business acumen, heart for social impact, and engaged her network to create the digital platform, EMaâlem Academy. The platform for Moroccan artisans aims to empower makers and digitalize the traditional handicraft sector. With support from World Learning and the Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI), Hanane recounts the pleasure of hosting “20 creative minds for two days under EMaâlem, learning about social media and branding, brand development strategies and product photography.” Hanane planned training sessions and an Open Souk event that gave artisans and brand owners an opportunity to pitch their products and meet clients.
This inaugural event in March 2023 started forming in Hanane’s mind long before it was delivered. With patience and focus, she followed through with her objective of impacting the Made in Morocco sector. During her fellowship with PFP, she curated gift boxes for local businesses and worked on other similar digital initiatives. This experience connected her to other field experts with similar values of “designing and running practical business skills workshops for small business owners'' like Lauren Barkume, the Training Director at Aid to Artisans, an international non-profit organization based in Washington, D.C.
Since her PFP Fellowship, Hanane has continued to grow her skills by completing a Leadership for Development Fellowship through World Learning and taking on mentorship roles supporting Moroccan entrepreneurs through EMaâlem and female STEM youth changemakers in an international exchange program called TechGirls. EMaâlem Academy continues to grow and make even bigger impacts. Over 60% of the first EMaâlem event were women and countless networking connections were formed especially because the space was strategically shared with partners supporting 17 cooperatives from rural and urban areas. Hanane hopes to increase Moroccan handicraft brand owners’ access to the U.S. and other international markets and learning opportunities.