Latifa is from Meknes, one of the four royal cities in Morocco, a beautiful city often referred to as the Versailles of Morocco. She comes from a close family and, with four brothers, she was the only girl in the family – which, she says, contributed to wonderful memories of her childhood. Soon after finishing high school, she married a boy of Moroccan original from Rotterdam and moved to the Netherlands.
Her (now ex-) husband had his own business and earned well, so Latifa didn’t have to work and focused on raising their children. They had a good life as a family until her husband’s company went out of business and they decided to separate to take different paths.
Living on social welfare benefits in a large house with her children, Latifa struggled to see a future for herself: the prospects of a single mother with no previous work experience were bleak. She needed the flexibility to look after her family, so the only options seemed part-time work in a cleaning company or a supermarket, but her salary wouldn’t be enough to provide for her children.
The alternative was to become an entrepreneur. It had always been more attractive to Latifa. Having been married to an entrepreneur, she knew she had good business acumen and had seen how rewarding it is to be able to
“make your own money and being able to organise your working day in such a way that there is still attention for your family. However, I lacked the knowledge about all the rules and regulations related to setting up your own company”.
Latifa is an excellent baker and people often ask her to help organize parties: this made her think about becoming an event planner for people with the same cultural background as her, so the idea of "Magnifique" was born.
Thanks to the Work and Income department of the municipality of Rotterdam, Latifa was given more information about the steps needed to set up a business. She was introduced to the Entrepreneurial school for migrants, run by Qredits in collaboration with the Rotterdam Municipality and the Dutch council for refugees.
The programme was very useful to Latifa, both in terms of content and as an opportunity to strengthen her language skills. She still remembers she felt very nervous pitching her business plan to a jury at the end of the training, but she also felt very proud of her achievement.
As her business plan requires substantial investment, Latifa will start in phases. For the now, she is focusing on starting as a caterer, making her Moroccan pastries from home. For this, she needs little resources: a well-equipped kitchen and a market. She already has a suitable kitchen at home and the Moroccan / Turkish community, as well as her network of friends, will be her market.
Latifa will continue to receive her welfare benefits for six months, while she starts her business, and will receive further support for the second phase of her plan – event planning. As soon as she will receive her final approval from the municipality, Magnifique will be in business.
Qredits is a microfinance institution in the Netherlands, which provides financing, mentoring and tools for micro-entrepreneurs that have a viable business plan but are unable to obtain credit facilities from conventional lending institutions. It is part of the Youth Business Europe programme, a regional initiative supported by the Citi Foundation to help young entrepreneurs to start or grow a business.