Lamiaa Bounahmidi, Rabat- Media coverage of the “Arab Spring” carried scenes of street people and their acts of defiance and pent up frustration. Unreported was the realpolitik and driving cultural forces of “Hogra”. “Hogra” in Maghreb Dialects refers to “underestimating somebody else’s potential and value thus depriving the person from every opportunity offered to them in life.”
We are now, 3 years after the Tunisian Revolution that sparked the Arab Spring. What was meant to be a bottom-up revolution is now a messy top-down attempt to reach democracy. When we analyze what’s going on in the Arab Spring Countries of Northern Africa, it’s shocking how the so-called “Hogra” became depersonalized, and re-institutionalized, so as to be an Arab Spring told by reference to political parties, religious movements, ideological tendencies, etc.
Millions of people are moved by Hogra (the Hogrites, to re-personify them by name). They seek dignity in lives of meaning. Their voices and passions to life lives of purpose count on days of Arab Spring elections, and on the 365 days of the year. They demand short-term action plans to change their daily lives, and long range planning on basic infrastructure, education, housing, healthcare and economic justice for all citizens. I am afraid that the stories that grab media attention in our 24/7 news cycles fail to share the lessons of the Hogrites, the people of purpose, moving change forward.
Rioting and bloodshed in the streets to trigger more elections are less than ideal or direct outlets for Hogra’s energy, insight and ingenuity. The dignity of self-empowerment is a powerful ally and a state-of-mind.
Hogra is taking many forms in Northern Africa. I see social enterprise as a powerful expression of Hogra. Social entrepreneurs are the new street leaders who will kickstart the strategies for improving the peoples’ quality of life. There are no “we-are-not-ready-for-democracy-yets;” nor are there educated elites whose efforts to jumpstart change should be summarily suspect of ulterior motive. There are today a majority of Hogrites, of social entrepreneurs, doctors, business men and women, farmers, merchants and people who see change within arms’ reach, and who deserve the equal change to grab a hold of it and thrive.
Hogrites have the talent, commitment to success and motivation to help themselves and others get out of poverty today, and build a better tomorrow for their children. The only thing they need is an opportunity to show that “YES, WE CAN!”. Social entrepreneurs have amazing skills and passions to network, to understand the subtleties of hurt and compassion. They see ways to respect traditions and indigenous cultures, while applying modern means for safeguarding and sharing them. In essence, social entrepreneurs run pilot projects as laboratories that safely mix Hogra populations, putting together their complementary skills and talents, in ways that share profits with the needy, add social impact and build international brands that tell authentic and true stories of change, human stories, Hogra stories.
This is very personal and real for me. To test and prove Hogra principles, I co-founded Looly’s as an impact-driven start-up in the food industry. Looly’s is a social business: focused on achieving both social AND business goals. Having an innovative product (modern fine pearls of couscous), filling real customers’ expanding gourmet cultural food tastes and bringing value is what makes Looly’s a business. At its essence, Looly’s community-building mission funds and organizes financial literacy courses, academic support for children, social housing and other social activities. Looly’s is part of an international zero-compromise food movement, a transformation where food safety and quality, healthy diet/nutrition and foods that taste great are the assets of a unique product produced by human hands, with care for the lives of people making and consuming the food.
The Arab Spring showed the power of the crowd can be organized instantly via Twitter and social media today. The crowd is not monophonic or monosyllabic. The crowd is made up of passionate people, with the skills, knowledge, networks and business savvy to use what all agree is broken to have the opportunity to fix it. Today, the social entrepreneurs are doing their best, are running fast, outpacing the lumbering of institutions that react as if change were necessarily a turtle walking, hiding from change, walking a bit, and sleeping. Private sector organizations, NGOs and individuals have to take the lead in the Arab Spring countries, to demonstrate that Hogra is a real force for good.
That’s why Looly’s wants to be crowdfunded and heartfunded on Kickstarter to prove that the crowd can invest in itself, in its progressive business models. I invite you to check our kickstarter campaign and give us your thoughts and support.
Looly’s is about the dignity of people becoming value creators by taking the lead in sharing their know-how and delicious cuisine with the rest of the world.
Looly’s Women are simply radiant, the Other Arab Spring.
© Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or or redistribute