Au-delà de la Crise Covid-19 : Le Maroc qui fera la différence

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Nous vivons une période qui va marquer l’histoire moderne de l’humanité. En l’espace de quelques semaines, le système économique mondial est remis en question. Notre compréhension –et approche– de la croissance, de la prospérité et de la résilience est brusquement mise à l’épreuve.

Nous cogitons sur les scénarios de l’après-crise, nous imaginons des futurs que l’on n’aurait pas osé appréhender il y a quelques mois, et nous nous retrouvons déconcertés face à notre incapacité de contrôler l’avenir, un avenir, nous le savons, immense en défis sociaux et économiques.

Les états seront confrontés à redresser des déficits budgétaires plus accentués, à rééquilibrer des taux de chômage plus élevés ; les entreprises seront amenées à reconstruire des chaînes de valeur paralysées, à réinventer parfois de nouveaux business modèles ; et les organisations de la société civile verront, de premier abord, une détérioration plus accrue d’une situation sociale déjà fragilisée.

Au Maroc, notre capacité d’agir vite, de manière agile, innovante et intégrée va déterminer notre propension à réussir ou pas ce défi.

Trois éléments primordiaux nous semblent indispensables à toute démarche adoptée par les autorités publiques pour faire face aux externalités de la crise COVID19 :

  • Une vision intégrée du développement post-Corona: Si le Maroc a brillamment mis en place une Stratégie Nationale pour le Développement Durable à l’horizon 2030, il est aujourd’hui impératif plus que jamais de définir un plan d’exécution de la stratégie de manière transverse et coordonnée à travers les trois piliers de développement : l’Etat, le secteur privé, et les organisations de la société civile. Le Maroc pendant et après cette crise doit faire appel à des mécanismes de gestion innovants où les entreprises se joignent à l’état pour traiter de la question sociale, où la société civile engendre des idées innovantes pour stimuler de nouveaux modèles de croissance, et où la réflexion en silos, qui a trop longtemps miné les efforts de développement, est remplacée par des stratégies, à petite et à grande échelles, fortement intégrées à travers les industries et les secteurs d’activité.

 

  • Des mécanismes hybrides : Les voies de relance de l’économie traditionnellement poursuivies dans les benchmarks du capitalisme moderne ne seront pas suffisantes à déployer une nouvelle vague de croissance à l’échelle nationale, ni internationale. Par ailleurs, notre patrimoine nous prodigue d’enseignements précieux en matière de systèmes de croissances hybrides où le social, l’environnemental et l’économique ne font qu’un et ne répondent qu’à un objectif commun et harmonieux : la croissance inclusive. Ainsi, le système du Waqf serait un excellent exemple de modèles de croissance qui allie performance financière, bien-être social et équilibre écologique. Le mécanisme de la Zakat, couplé aux technologies Fintech offrirait un autre levier de réduction des inégalités et de création d’opportunités d’autonomie financière, surtout pour les couches sociales les plus économiquement désavantagées.

 

  • Une communication réfléchie: Enfin, en temps de crise ou post-crise, il faut fédérer les voix, les efforts, l’attention autour d’une vision unie et d’un objectif commun : sortir gagnant du tunnel. Les autorités Marocaines déploient des mesures qui ont valu au pays l’admiration à l’international. Nous devons continuer de créer des canaux de communication où les Marocains et les Marocaines, toutes classes confondues, sont informés de la manière dont ils peuvent et doivent co-construire le Maroc de demain. Car ceci n’est pas une crise de l’Etat ou des entreprises, c’est une affaire qui commence et se termine par les citoyens.

La Pandémie du Bonheur !

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C’est une première dans l’histoire moderne de l’Homme. Un arrêt forcé, toutes activités confondues. Le monde est en pause. Les enfants jubilent devant leurs écrans ; ils découvrent un nouveau mode de schooling. Les parents s’affolent ; entre télétravail, explication de cours à leurs enfants, garde des tous petits…. Il est évident que ce système nous fait découvrir de nouveaux modes de vie. Et comme la sagesse universelle l’aurait voulu, nous regarderons le verre à moitié plein. Voyons donc, qu’y a-t-il de si « cool » – comme dirait ma fille – dans la situation ?

D’abord, la petite famille est réunie. Pour le bien et pour le pire. Grâce au couvre-feu, nous passons vingt quatre heures de la journée ensemble. Nous apprenons à nous connaître, mine de rien. Nous cuisinons ensemble, un plat ou deux par jour, nous nous parlons un plus, nous nous efforçons à garder notre calme, car on sait que la situation peut durer et qu’il ne sert à rien de perdre les pédales, du moins de sitôt. Nous reconstruisons donc le cadre familial dont la vie effrénée nous avait un peu dérobés.

Ensuite, nous sommes plus créatifs ! Face à la question « Papa je m’ennuie ! Qu’est ce que je vais faire maintenant ? », on est bien obligés de trouver des alternatives – et je ne parle pas ici bien-sûr de la télévision ou des jeux vidéo, car ce n’en sont pas – On invente alors des jeux bizarres, on s’efforce à trouver le temps pour ces jeux, sinon on le paierait de toute façon par des comportements inappropriés (embêtants en langage parental) des enfants. Ces derniers passent alors plus de temps à dessiner, à jouer à des jeux de société, à inventer des histoires, à créer leurs mondes imaginaires. On aura donc transformé leur ennui en une opportunité de développement et de créativité inédite.

Enfin, cette mise en quarantaine est certainement l’occasion de passer plus de temps avec soi-même. Dans cette pause forcée, nous trouverons quelques minutes dans la journée où nous rééquilibrerons les aiguilles de nos horloges biologiques et psychologiques. Nous nous parlerons à nous-mêmes de ce qui va bien et ce qui va moins bien, nous prendrons peut-être de nouvelles résolutions, et au mieux, nous nous mettrons à les appliquer. Dans cette halte insoupçonnée, nous sommes pris de court, face à notre conscience, à ce que l’on aurait pu donner de mieux à ce monde, et à ce que l’on devrait réellement donner. Ceci est une aubaine, en réalité. Une aubaine pour repenser un nouveau système mondial, pour faire partie de la transformation radicale que subira le monde de l’après-pandémie, et pour faire de tout notre possible pour que cette transformation apporte plus d’égalité, plus de justice sociale et plus de bien-être écologique, pour tous, tous.

Maroc Durable : Responsabilité de tous !

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La gestion efficace de la transition du Maroc vers une économie verte et durable appelle à une coordination du plus haut niveau entre les différentes instances de prise de décision et de politiques publiques. Ceci est d’autant plus important en période de crise écologique où les précipitations se raréfient et la sécheresse s’intensifie. En ce mois de mars, on assiste à une augmentation atypique de la température avec une absence inquiétante de pluie. Si ce scénario continue, l’année agricole sera compromise ainsi que l’approvisionnement ininterrompu de la population en eau potable.

Pourtant, certains aspects de gestion de cette conjoncture laissent à désirer. On s’étonne à voir, par exemple, l’arrosage des espaces publiques à un moment de pic de chaleur de la journée, engendrant la perte instantanée d’un pourcentage non-négligeable de l’eau utilisée. On s’étonne, en ces circonstances critiques de pénurie d’eau à l’échelle nationale, de voir continuer les habitudes de lavage des voitures sans considération aucune pour la consommation raisonnable et responsable de l’eau.

En ces temps d’incertitudes et de déséquilibre climatique, on s’attend à voir naître et appliquer des lois et régulations qui régissent le comportement individuel et organisationnel en termes d’utilisation des ressources en eau. Au niveau de l’industrie, les niveaux de consommation relative en eau doivent être mesurés, contrôlés et sanctionnés en cas d’excès. Idem au niveau des institutions publiques. Enfin, et non des moindres, un effort particulier doit être déployé pour rééduquer le comportement individuel et sensibiliser à la responsabilité environnementale de tous.

Les nappes phréatiques ne sont pas la propriété d’une entité privée ou publique, et la capacité de payer sa facture en eau ne devrait, sous aucun prétexte, justifier une consommation démesurée, égoïstique, et irresponsable de ce bien universel.

Development, Education, Sustainability: Lead thoughts from lead players

Fadwa MACECE

I had the pleasure this week to speak at a panel organized by the Moroccan American Commission for Educational and Cultural Exchange (MACECE) for graduating MBA students from the Fox School of Business at Temple University in Philadelphia. Besides the honor of being part of high-profile panelists from large impact organizations (the Millennium Challenge Corporation, Stevens’ Initiative of the Aspen Institute; Women’s Artisans of Morocco Network), I took pleasure in sharing and discussing around development, education and impact. Here are the key take-aways:

  • Bold local initiatives by global investors: In achieving its march towards inclusive education for all, the Moroccan Ministry of Education benefits today from a 2.5 million USD grant by the Millenium Challenge Corporation targeted towards vocational training and capacity building programs to bridge the university-market gap across the country. Several hundreds of young Moroccans have been part of this high scale initiative which is running for the next two years. In a similar vein, another initiative, launched by the Aspen Institute, Stevens’ Initiative, and the Bezos Foundation, focuses on deploying a platform for on-line exchange program for public university students in Marrakech and Casablanca regions. Heavily based on the latest technological advances, this experience, although uncommon to both students and the educational body at large, remains an interesting and quite intriguing one.
  • New patterns for education of the future: The fourth industrial revolution is increasingly calling for revisiting business models across industries. Education is no exception. In a highly unsustainable world marked by stark and even more widening inequalities, novel educational models can and should be used to lift underprivileged economies up the ladder of development. A possible pathway for such a lift-up is the “leapfrogging” model from the grassroots up through social strata. In such models, technology plays a pivotal role in interconnecting excluded areas with top-notch educational programs across the globe. Learners pick and select their curricula according to their own, quick-win needs, to integrate an increasingly conscious job market of these new channels. Model fine-tuning is still required for African and some MENA region countries.
  • Stronger women, stronger societies: Female entrepreneurship is taking crisper shape in the Moroccan handicraft sector, with bottom-up initiatives organizing the industry in a self-emergent pattern. This association in Marrakech headed by a female artisan and employing a large number of women from the region voices some of the unspoken concerns/needs of handicraft female entrepreneurs: the right to express herself at both national and international instances, the right to generate income and to be independent, the right to exist as an essential and unequivocal pillar of society, not just as a spouse or a mother, but also as an agent of economic development.

Corporate Responsibility: less numbers, more impact

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2020 has come, and yet another challenging year is ahead of us to intensify efforts towards bending the emissions curve, achieving more global equality, and managing resources more sustainably. If governments have failed to efficiently address the planetary challenges that marked the previous decade including climate change, rising inequalities and global political turmoil, the corporate sector is called upon now more than ever to take an ethical stand with respect to its responsibility towards the planet and its inhabitants. Corporate social responsibility, which has arisen over the past decade as the flagship “quick-win” answer to solving all kinds of social and environmental problems, has only left a bitter taste of dissatisfaction, incompleteness, and almost failure. Why? We believe this is more related to how the concept has been adopted than to its core essence.

In attempting to lessen their negative externalities, firms find generally safe harbor in starting various scattered initiatives around local communities, with the hope to enhance corporate image and to be more engaged in improving society. However, little might be expected of such initiatives in the absence of a holistic sustainability strategy that has a tangible link with the firm’s business and a measurable impact on the environment and society.

Creating positive and lasting impact goes beyond crafting an annual CSR program with half a dozen well-rounded local actions with a nice marketing campaign and a catchy annual report. More strikingly, corporate managers tend to confuse “impact” with “output” when it comes to social and environmental action. Numbers are good, yes, but they need to tell the things that matter most. It is good, for example, to learn that company X has provided 500 children in the icy mountains of the Atlas with a hot meal and some warm clothes. It is better, however, to assess the impact of such an initiative on transforming the lives of these kids and on making their existence more meaningful. No less important is, of course, the benefit of such actions on enhancing the firm’s public image and, collaterally, generating more revenue.

There are multiple misfunctioning elements in our approach to corporate responsibility, and now is the time to embrace a new form of truly ethical CSR. This new form of responsibility must recognize the limits of our existing development models and must challenge our understanding of achievement and impact. This must be an approach that replaces short-term actions with long-term strategies, punctual benefit with life-long effect, and calculated outputs with equilibrium, meaning, and impact.

 

Fadwa Chaker

Educator and Social Entrepreneur

Beyond CSR

CSR

In 1958, Theodore Levitt presented a confrontational discourse against Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), alleging that the business of business is “making money, not sweet music” and that CSR breaks the rules of capitalism and free enterprise. Today, CSR must be brawled not because it undermined free enterprise, but precisely because it largely contributed to its reign with unprecedented empowering mechanisms. While CSR was initially intended to regulate the wild and uncontrolled growth of private corporation, it has (un)predictably nurtured the very foundations of unstoppable-growth-led capitalism. Here are a few arguments why we believe this is dangerous:

  • CSR is short-sighted: As opposed to long-term strategies, CSR actions and programs are often limited in scope and depth. Because they are mostly driven by short-term visibility and results, their impacts on society or the environment remain, at best, superficial: Shallow impact.
  • CSR as an instrument for branding and public relations: When CSR is used as a marketing and sales argument, which has been the case for several large corporations, the underlying operational strategies are developed towards satisfying the central goal of profit maximization. Thus, CSR is exploited as a communication and branding tool, often found under the auspices of the Chief Communication Manager, the goal of which being to simply reinvent the message that serves to sell the same old goods and services made with the same old value chains and production systems: No strategic revamping.
  • CSR as a competitive advantage: One of the most widely advanced arguments for CSR is creating a distinctive competitive advantage. However, unless this advantage is sustained in time, it will add little value, if any, to the firm. For a specific resource to be a source of sustained competitive advantage, it ought to be valuable, rare, inimitable and non-substitutable. CSR programs hastily engendered in corporate meetings are ordained to fail satisfying the four criteria simultaneously, thus questioning the real value to the firm –should that be the goal– of CSR: Not a source of competitive advantage.

CSR looked once attractive to various managerial levels of the firm. Today, the concept is gradually wearing off, calling into question our basic understanding of well-being within and outside business organizations. Some enthusiasts have urged towards thinking in terms of a corporate version of the more inclusive paradigm of sustainable development: Corporate Sustainability. Increasingly more business models and frameworks are being developed in this arena, disrupting everyday the way we think about and approach the social responsibility of business. It is probably hard time we moved beyond CSR.

Growing Social Impact in Africa: Which Solutions?

Image result for growth africaHow may Africa harness the potential of thousands of its young social innovators and social entrepreneurs in an impactful and efficient manner? Which patterns can be envisaged to expand social impact through sound and informed scaling strategies?

These are the questions I investigated during my participation this September 2nd– 4th to the 11th edition of the International Social Innovation Research Conference (ISIRC) hosted by the Yunus Center for Social Business and Health in Glasgow.

Image result for isirc 2019 think globalAs much as I wanted my contribution to solidly draw on theoretical strands –ISIRC being recognized as the world’s leading interdisciplinary conference on social innovation research, I had the explicit aim of contributing to this collective wisdom by exploring practical solutions with an eye on the peculiarities and contextual specificities of Africa and its local economies.

Today, the African economy does not create enough wealth to meet the pressing needs of its societies in terms of job creation, education, healthcare and human development. Despite the steady economic growth of the continent over the past decade, African governments have failed to translate this growth into positive social welfare based on inclusive and sustainable development. The weight of poverty and unemployment is prevalent in most countries, compounded by civil wars and political instabilities. UNDP experts argue that not only do inequalities deprive the poor of the positive effects of growth, but they also undermine efforts to reduce poverty. It is clear today that such macroeconomic indicators as GDP growth rate usually used to describe the situation of African countries do not faithfully reflect the social reality of the continent or the conditions of poverty in which most African citizens are being trapped. A paradigm shift has become necessary to overcome these structural problems. Social innovation can play a key role in supporting national social policy and adapting it to the new societal challenges.

A new wave of passionate, visionary and impact-driven individuals are bravely entering the space vacated by the two historical players: the State and the private sector. These intrepid leaders, referred to as social innovators or social entrepreneurs, are transforming, every day, the way we approach solution design to pressing social problems. But how might innovative but isolated solutions benefit to millions of populations in need of these innovations in the absence of well-rounded scale-up strategies? Which scale-up mode is most preferred and why?

I argue that scaling-up social innovation “inspirers” in Africa will multiply social impact down the value chain. Thus, I present a conceptual framework for scalability under two modes: concentrated vs. fragmented. In the concentrated (or conglomerate) mode, inspirers collaborate under the auspices of a few regional mega-inspirers that coordinate development activities including incubation, financing and capacity building for the burgeoning social enterprises. The fragmented scenario represents a pattern of multiple small and geographically scattered players working and growing independently. I construct a system dynamics model that simulates the two scenarios and measures the social impact created under each of them.

Results suggest that while fragmented scale-up generates higher impact in the first few years thanks to agility and adaptability factors, this trend is quickly overtaken by the concentrated scale-up strategy which yields the highest impact in the medium and long terms. This is explained by the positive loop created through synergy and collaboration between players under the conglomerate mode. In other terms, when synergistic capabilities are low (due to institutional, legal, or governance constraints), it is better to adopt a fragmented scaling approach. However, as regional integration is becoming a priority in the geopolitical agenda of most African countries, cooperation, co-creation and synergy must and will be a driving force of the next growth patterns. Under this high-synergy pattern, concentrated scaling maximizes social impact and becomes, thus, the most preferred route for scaling up social innovation impact in Africa.

Photo: World Bank

Lab-Grown Diamonds: A More Ethical Alternative?

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At a time where large manufacturers are being scrutinized for their ethical and socially responsible supply chains, some iconic industries seem to have transcended, so far, this global imperative. Wrapping the product with the magic of scarcity, authenticity and natural beauty of the gems, traditional diamond producers have sold romance alongside stones, to such a point that the romantic cloak concealed the necessary questions consumers ought to ask with respect to sourcing, supply chain and impact.

But today, things could change with alternative production processes: lab-grown diamonds. A California based startup coined the process to make authentic-like gems, selling at one third less price. The stones are created from a tiny cell that goes through a chain of transformation steps to grow into a fine, equally attractive final product. According to the inventors, a jeweler would be unable to distinguish between the naturally produced and the lab-grown gems.

What this means to the industry? Debatable feelings about what the “grown” diamonds mean to their consumers, correct. But most importantly, more clarity about the ethical, social and environmental conditions under which those gems were created. The entirely traceable production process gives now more legitimacy to grown diamonds and will inevitably trigger a serious debate about why we should continue purchasing the unique, scarce, magical…and questionable natural diamonds.

More info >> The Economist

“The Future is Now”

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What will the future look like in five years? ten years? A Davos roundtable this January enlightened our minds on the unmistakable tipping points that will shape human history in the near future. For that, it was necessary to have multiple angle views from artists, activists, business people and politicians. In a nutshell, there are some core issues that will structure the depth and scope of the future. Continue reading ““The Future is Now””

“Sleepwalking” to the dead end?

Earth danger

« Is the world sleepwalking into a crisis?” This is how the 2019 Global Risk Report starts its summary of the global risks hovering over our planet as seen by chief economists at the World Economic Forum. And this is probably one of the most alarming yet truthful apologies we have ever been confronted with. Yet the stakes are high, at best. The report highlights that 60% of the global risks with both the highest likelihood and the highest impact are related to human-induced climate change. The remaining 40% most likely to hit are technological risks pertaining to cyber-security, data theft and fraud. Failing to mitigate those risks can present an inflection point in mankind’s history. Researchers have set the 2°C threshold for containable damage. Scientists claim that we have trespassed “planetary boundaries” and that we run short of time.

With the acceleration of industry 4.0 and the widening divide it creates between rich and poor countries, global inequality will be on a rise. Migration, poverty and exclusion increase public distrust, pushing for further populism and centroid policies.

But, it seems like there is a way out of this global trouble. And this way is exactly the opposite of what we’re seeing in protectionist regimes. Economists introduced the concept of Globalization 4.0 whereby transnational cooperation for planetary benefit overtakes the narrow view of national interests. In a scheme of an international shared vision, nations are called to join hands in collective action to create fair trade in a safe planet where human beings have equal chances of leading a decent life. Now, theory is good, and even strongly inspirational. But there is a big question which remains unanswered: “who gets their hands in first?” China, who claims its right to mass industrialization after a long era of economic faintness? Europe, who is divided between achieving the sustainability transition and safeguarding economic supremacy? Or the United States where the word ‘climate change’ is taboo in the Oval Office?

In this global geopolitical disorder where economic predation fuels political ambitions, the voices of weak stakeholders can have a weight. When political systems fail, consumers, scientists and business people must act as responsible individuals who owe a debt of gratitude to the planet. For neither false discourses nor disguised handshakes will stop the roar of the chaos ahead.