“I have always had an incredible passion for bringing positive change to women across Morocco. I will never forget the moment that this passion changed into my life calling.
I had just taken a dozen female artisans on a trip to receive business training. It was my first job and I’ll be the first to admit that I had no idea what I was doing. We were on our way back to Marrakesh when I overheard one of the participants speaking to her peers about how she was preparing to be beaten once she returned home. I was shocked; she had joined the trip against her husband’s will. When I asked her why, she answered without hesitation:
“I want my daughter to go to school so she can have more opportunities than I did.”
It became crystal clear to me what kind of impact is achieved by investing in a woman. It is not just about her -- it is about her daughters, her family, her community. Everyone whose life is touched by a woman feels the effect of her strength. Naturally, this is the world.
Attending the Global Women's Mentoring Partnership, a collaboration between FORTUNE magazine and the US Department of State, turned my vision into action. I had the opportunity to be mentored by some of the most powerful women on the planet, including litigator Kathi Vidal, former US CTO Megan Smith, and Susan Wojcicki, the CEO of YouTube. I was inspired; never before had I felt so confident and powerful. Despite all of the challenges that awaited me in my home country, I knew I had to dream big in order to achieve the results I wanted.
In 2012, I launched my venture, then known as ANAROUZ, with the hopes of empowering women through market access and entrepreneurship. Today, ASILA is partnered with more than 400 female entrepreneurs and artisans across Morocco, offering some of the most fashion forward and beautifully crafted leather bags and accessories in the country.”
Manal Elattir has long been an advocate for female and youth empowerment in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. She is the regional manager for the Stevens Initiative at the Aspen Institute promoting virtual exchange. Manal co-founded the first mentoring network for women in Morocco, trained more than 1,500 youth across the MENA region on entrepreneurship, and was the director of the Middle East Partnership Initiative Alumni Network in Morocco. She is also a keynote speaker on issues such as entrepreneurship, youth employment, women’s rights, and intercultural dialogue.
Manal has been recognized at the international level for her work and selected for some of the most prestigious programs, including: FORTUNE’s Most Powerful Women Program, the UNESCO Human Rights International Fellowship, the Global Women Leadership Network’s Women Leaders of the World, and the UNAOC International Fellowship.
Manal has also been the recipient of several awards, including: the Architects of the Future Award, the Middle East Woman Leader in Media Award, and the International Alliance of Women’s World of Difference Award. She also contributed to the Palgrave Macmillan publication Women’s Movements in Post -“Arab Spring” North Africa.
In addition to taking over the world, Manal loves music and can more often than not be found dancing to Boys to Men, Marc Anthony, or John Legend. Manal is also the mother to three rambunctious daughters; Lilia and Yasmina, 6, and Camelia, 4. She hopes that her work inspires them to love themselves as they are. She and her family currently live in Marrakesh, Morocco.