Monitoring results: Based on the four indicators set at the beginning of the project, (1) Six local service providers have offered ten new products to 152 SME (target: 2 service providers offer at least 3 new products to 100 SME). (2) The “Agence de l’Oriental” started operationalising its action plan in mid 2011 while integrating the findings of three participatory diagnostics and incorporating support to women entrepreneurs in two priority intervention areas (target: action plan elaborated in a participatory manner starts in 2010 with one specific chapter on female entrepreneurs).(3) The percentage of investment credit provided to SME (compared to all credits) increased from 19,5% in 2007 to 23,7% in 2010 (target: 20,5%). (4) Eight success stories of successful starting of Diaspora businesses with project support have been documented (target: 3 success stories documented).

Throughout project duration 44 enterprises have been supported of which 10 have been definitely created, 27 are still in process (with an expectation of a 50% success rate), and 7 have been abandoned (data from June 2011). By the end of 2011 it is expected to have created 156 fixed jobs (including the entrepreneurs) and 146 temporary (seasonal) jobs.

Learning points: Working in an EU-financed project requires a lot of double administration work as the GIZ specific requirements remained valid, too. The EU is not really prepared to collaborate with bigger entities such as GIZ which dispose of their own tools and mechanisms. The interest is more on input and less on quantitative and qualitative output as they are laid down in the indicators. The EU decentralisation in 2010 where responsibilities have been handed over to EU Rabat (instead of Brussels) has brought some advantages in terms of closer cooperation and understanding of the project but the administrative head aches remained despite GIZ acquired status of a preferential partner of EU.

Content-wise the most important learning point for me was the lack of interest of the Moroccan Diaspora to invest in their former home country. Most of those collaborating with the project dispose of European passports and they enjoy the benefits of the EU (health system, social security, etc.) and who don’t want to put these accomplishments at stake. However, they keep very close ties with their country of origin and are willing to share know-how and expertise with their country fellows. Another reason for their lack of investment initiatives is their mistrust towards the Moroccan institutional system. Despite a lot of achievements, most of the Moroccan institutions still lack professionalism in dealing with investors. All forms of corruption can be encountered where different office holders try to cash in on their administrative power whereas the Diaspora is used to functioning administration systems in the countries of the EU. The “Arab spring” emerging in countries like Tunisia, Egypt and Libya may further contribute to smoothening procedures and processes in Morocco.

Regarding the investment opportunities as such in Oriental Region, there are plenty mainly in three sectors: tourism (particularly ecotourism), agriculture and construction. That’s the reasons why more and more European enterprises watch out for these niches. At project level we witnessed an increasing number of original European investors taking interest in these sectors (and others!). ...