MEPI Helps Entrepreneur Overcome Challenges to Grow Successful Salon

Khadija Elhammal, a 35-year-old hairstylist and makeup artist from Safi, Morocco, knew launching her own salon would come with its challenges. But with her determination and support from the Empowering Youth through Entrepreneurship in Morocco (EYEM) team, Khadija successfully opened her own salon. Khadija received a diploma in hairstyling and aesthetics from the National Initiative for Youth and Sport in Safi in 2015. She worked in different salons, and at the same time took courses to enrich her skills at the Zina Center for Hairstyle and Beauty in Safi.

While Khadija had always dreamed of opening her own salon, she lacked the financial support and materials to make her dream a reality. Through friends, she learned about the EYEM project. Funded by the U.S. Department of State’s Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) and implemented by the Near East Foundation (NEF) in partnership with the Moroccan Association for the Support and Promotion of Small Businesses (AMAPPE), the Moroccan Social Solidarity Economy Network (REMESS), and alAmana Microfinance, the EYEM project provides training in entrepreneurship, business incubator support, and start-up grants to give young professionals the tools they need to turn their ideas into viable businesses.

In an effort to improve her business plan, Khadija joined EYEM and started to attend trainings in May 2016. With the lessons in market studies and marketing she learned from the trainings and the coaching she received from the EYEM team, Khadija development a viable business plan for her salon. By studying the market, Khadija noted a high demand for wedding and party supplies and beauty services during the summer months. Based on what she learned, Khadija decided to focus on promoting her services during the off-season, organizing parties in primary schools and a religious feast.

Khadija presented her plan to the project’s selection committee, and was approved to receive a grant of 20,000 Moroccan Dirhams (approximately $2,000 USD) to launch her business. With the grant she received, Khadija purchased wedding accessories—caftans and other materials for rental. Khadija also contributed 10,000 Moroccan Dirhams of her own money to purchase chairs, mirrors, and other supplies for her salon. During the first months of launching her business, Khadija faced challenges— especially in making enough of a profit to pay the 750 Moroccan Dirhams rent for her space and utilities. However, through her strong networks and the positive word of mouth of her clients, Khadija was able to steadily increase her client base. She also provided special discounts to clients who helped her to attract new individuals.

The grant, trainings, and ongoing coaching Khadija received from the EYEM project helped her persevere and continue to develop her business. While she could barely cover rent and expenses at the launch of her project, she is now able to earn over 3,000 Moroccan Dirhams per month (nearly $300 USD)—with even higher sales during the summer wedding months. Although Khadija is satisfied with the success her business has seen in its first year, she is determined to continue to improve her business model so that she can ensure that next year it is even more profitable. In the next year, Khadija plans to expand her makeup and beauty center, which will allow her to provide more services for her clients as well as offer new job opportunities for local women.

The EYEM project has trained 486 youth in microenterprise development, helped over 300 youth to develop professional business plans, and helped launch more than 250 businesses.