Morocco: Farid El-Houzia, founder of a start-up
Farid El-Houzia lived in Dortmund for almost twenty years before returning to Morocco with the support of the Centre for International Migration and Development (CIM) and the German Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Morocco. There, he founded the IT start-up 'INOSER'. By assisting migrants living in Germany to realise their ‘business ideas for development’, the German Government is helping them to foster progress in their countries of origin. Responsible for implementation is CIM – a joint operation by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH and the German Federal Employment Agency (BA).
Why did you go to Germany back then?
After finishing school with a university entrance qualification, I wanted to study abroad. Because I was so keen on technology 'made in Germany', and because I had relatives there, it didn't take me long to decide to study computer science in Dortmund. After I finished studying, I got a job and one project just followed on from the next. Then I met my wife – she's Moroccan but born in Germany – and we had our first two children.
What made you decide to move back to Morocco?
For the first eight years, I felt like a tourist in Germany. But once I had a family and work, things changed. When you live abroad for so long and only go home now and then, you lose contact with your country. I didn't want that to happen. The CIM programme for returnees made it easier for me to make a new start. Luckily my wife and children agreed to move back with me in 2014. And our third child was born in Rabat.
First you returned home, then you launched your start-up. How does that feel?
In Morocco everything is changing! It's exciting to be here and be part of it. In Germany I never dared to start my own business. Here I have the feeling I can achieve more. My experience in software development and team leadership and my focus on quality and user friendliness are needed here.
What does your company offer the Moroccan market?
Morocco has a very young population. I see great potential in the children. But all-day schools and too much studying mean they are under a lot of stress. And there are only very few leisure activities that are suitable for children. My company INOSER offers schools digital teaching solutions. Our aim is to make learning more fun and to help improve the education system.
Do you sometimes miss your old life back in Germany?
Of course. Germany has its positive aspects, but there are certain things that bother me – for example, current public perceptions of migrant Moroccans. Here in Morocco I'm having to get used to the way people work again. Nevertheless, I love the Moroccan temperament.