MIT Entrepreneur Forum Pan – Arab Competition semi finalist team Isoprod is the first Moroccan factory focused on the production of cellulose fibre insulation, where cellulose fibre is made sustainably from recycled paper. In an interview with BarakaBits, they shared their ambitions and their experience so far with the competition.
Who inspires you in the Arab World?
Sheikha Al-Bahar, the CEO of NBK. As a team of three young Arab women we see in her a great example of success the Arab world. She is not only the CEO of the largest lender in Kuwait but also serves as director of Mobile Telecommunications Company KSC, vice chairman of Watani Investment Company KSCC and vice chair of Watani Investment Company K.S.C.
Why did you apply for this competition?
The idea of setting up Isoprod was the result of a changing legal framework in Morocco and the increasing will in protecting the environment. The next step was to analzse the market and come up with a business plan. None of us was an entrepreneur before. We all came from a different background bringing together different skills. We saw in the competition a unique opportunity to get feedback regarding our idea and also a way to raise funds. The whole fundraising process is a real nightmare!
What impact does participating have on the team as a whole and individually?
Participating in the MIT competition has made each member of the team develop new skills. Since we are working as a team, each one of us has to be able to listen, communicate constructively, share views openly, and show commitment and as well. It gave us a real structure and made the deadlines more tangible. Also it is a good way to have connections as well as feedback regarding the business we would like to set up.
In your opinion what are some of the benefits of such competitions in the region?
Developing entrepreneurship is crucial in the MENA region. One out of four young people (aged 18-29) in the region’s labor market do not have jobs and one in ten adults find themselves in the same position. These are the official figures. If we take into consideration the informal unemployment the figures would be higher. Thus focusing on developing entrepreneurship makes total sense. Developing entrepreneurship is another way of creating jobs. Such competitions give young people the resources to create their own companies so that they can participate in economic growth and employment. In the MENA region it is a critical learning experience for young people.
In what sector would you like to see improvement in the Middle East?
Middle East should invest in renewable energies and also in eco-friendly solutions. Ecology is an area that has been neglected for a while and it our duty to change that. We have to make people more aware of the risks of not respecting ecology. Additionally, we would like to see more start-ups, young entrepreneurs and competitions like MIT.
Any tips for those who may want to participate in similar competitions in the future?
First, I would tell them to ask them if they love what they do because it is the key to success. Also they have to truly believe in their idea and give themselves the means to make it happen. These types of competitions are in a way a first step to achieve their goals. I would advise them to be very focused and follow the guidelines.