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Walking the Talk in Morocco: A First Dip into the Moroccan Social Context

August 20, 2015


Marie Francoise Marie-Nelly exchanging with Abdeljalil Cherkaoui, founder of the Réseau marocain de l’économie sociale et solidaire (REMESS), Souhir Abdellah, President of the REMESS and other members of the associative network.


  • The new Maghreb Country Director is committed to escaping the confines of her office, to learn about the challenges Morocco faces by engaging directly with Moroccans.
  • For her first field visit, Ms Marie Francoise Marie-Nelly was hosted by a civil society organization and given the chance to listen to a range of voices on what was needed to support development.

Salé (Morocco), August 20 2015 – “I will not learn very much about Morocco, and how best the World Bank can help meet its challenges, by sitting at my desk all day,” announced Marie Francoise Marie-Nelly to her colleagues, in her very first days as the new World Bank Country director for the Maghreb.  True to her word, Ms Marie-Nelly was quick to accept an invitation for her first field visit from a prominent civil society organization.

The Réseau marocain de l’économie sociale et solidaire (REMESS) is a national network of associations whose goal is  to help integrate marginalized groups, such as uneducated women, youth and immigrants, into the socio-economic fabric of the country. The network collaborates with cooperatives, training centers and other local initiatives across the country, to build networks and provide training, as a way of strengthening their capacities and ultimately their impact.

“One of our objectives is to help organizations such as the World Bank hear stories from the field about development constraints and the effectiveness of policies that are often adopted at a very central level” said Abdeljalil Cherkaoui, founder of the REMESS. During the visit, the new Maghreb Country Director was able to listen to a wide range of personal stories, to hear what people needed to meet their own specific challenges. 

A Sub-Saharan immigrant currently enrolled in a REMESS micro-entrepreneurship coaching program, also supported by the World Bank, explained to Ms. Marie-Nelly: “We need more of this kind of effective support on the ground to help us achieve our aspirations for a better living standard.” 


Members of the Réseau marocain de l’économie sociale et solidaire (REMESS).

World Bank l Ibtissam Alaoui

The visit also included a cooperative of female domestic workers. Through vocational training and advisory services, REMESS helped the women join together in a formal organization that both established quality standards and defended their individual rights.  “As a domestic worker, I was feeling isolated and had nowhere to turn when I was a victim of abuse or exploitation, “said R’kia, one of the domestic workers, ”now I feel protected and I get a sense that I am delivering professional services of high standards.”

Ms Marie Nelly shared with the cooperative and REMESS’ members a number of success stories from her experiences in Sub-Saharan Africa. She talked about projects that helped boost the skills of unqualified workers thereby giving them the opportunity to transition to higher value-added sectors such as new technologies and maintenance. “My feeling is that there is a lot we can learn from each other,” said Ms Marie-Nelly, “and that we can help scale-up local success stories, and build an innovative development model that will give hope to our young people especially, who are desperate for opportunities to mobilize their energy and creativity. “

REMESS Board members representing the different regions of the country met with Ms Marie-Nelly to brief her on some of their activities and the challenges they face at the local level. The meeting allowed both parties to share views and ideas on how to collaborate more effectively, and to respond to the Moroccan King’s recent call for greater action toward the country’s less developed regions and a thorough reform of the education and vocational training sector.

For her part, Ms Marie Nelly emphasized the importance of giving young people a voice and finding ways to promote their economic and social participation. “They represent an important part of Moroccan society and deserve much of development actors’ attention. We should work hand in hand to develop programs to give them greater voice and opportunities,” she concluded.