Khadija Hamouchi increases access to information for Arabic speaking Africans. The founder of Seejal Inc , from Morocco, won $25,000 in the 2015 African Entrepreneurship Award with an idea having “Most Intrapreneurial Potential.” Seejal consolidates relevant, legitimate websites onto a platform that allows users to comment, share, and interact with the content they are reading. And, easy search functions help users quickly find a topic of interest. Seejal solves the problem faced by many African, Arabic speaking students of finding up-to-date sources on topics they are studying in school. Khadija Hamouchi increases access to information for Arabic speaking Africans. The founder of Seejal Inc , from Morocco, won $25,000 in the 2015 African Entrepreneurship Award with an idea having “Most Intrapreneurial Potential.” Seejal consolidates relevant, legitimate websites onto a platform that allows users to comment, share, and interact with the content they are reading. And, easy search functions help users quickly find a topic of interest. Seejal solves the problem faced by many African, Arabic speaking students of finding up-to-date sources on topics they are studying in school.

During the African Entrepreneurship Award application, a mentor told Khadija, “I am very excited about your idea, and you have strong potential to make a game-changing difference in Arabic-speaking Africa.” At the time, the sky was the limit for Khadija, but, that sky was very far away. Weighted with potential and billed as someone with enormous “game-changing” and “intrapreneurial potential,” Khadija knew she had her work cut out for her. She admits that, “it was my very first experience with entrepreneurship and business.”

The ambitious and forward-thinking entrepreneur took the challenge with practical and determined steps. Over two years later, the results are increasingly positive.

Same Problem, Pivoted Solution

An intrapreneur innovates inside another organization, not an external, new company. Khadija came to Morocco as a 2015 Finalist with an idea of bringing modern pedagogical methods to Arabic, African education. She hoped to lift the quality of teachers and education and bring it in line with the 21st century. In the African, Arabic speaking world, Khadija observed educational models in need of innovation and development. Her intrapreneurial idea offered a new approach and a pivot. She would have to work within a school or a foundation to realize her Arabic pedagogy dream a reality.

Two years later, with more knowledge, experience, mentoring and funding, Khadija still sees the same problem; however, her approach has pivoted. The intrapreneur has become an entrepreneur and she is creating her own business, from the ground up.

Her seed idea in 2015 evolve from a desire to better train Arabic speaking educators in Africa, into Seejal.

Seejal is now in eight African, Arab speaking countries. Khadija has 6,500 subscribers to Seejal, and that number grows daily. In 2015, with just a good idea, Khadija’s company is a team of three, with a volunteer board of advisors helping along the way.

 

Khadija pitching at Harvard. Work at the AEA Boot Camp helps entrepreneurs confidently pitch their idea to investors.
Khadija pitching at Harvard. Work at the AEA Boot Camp helps entrepreneurs confidently pitch their idea to investors.

Changing the “Paradigm of Knowing”

“The paradigm of knowing in African Arabic speaking countries has completely changed,” Khadija says. “What students thought were institutions they could trust in introducing them to the modern times, is a thought of the past. Also, there is often one single worldview, and that they do not want.” To fill the gap and engage students intellectually, Seejal compiles current news sources onto a single platform. A simple filtering feature and highlighting, commenting, and sharing features enable students to quickly access information that relates to their studies or general areas of interest. And, Khadija says, “We guarantee a diversity of opinions and voices. We have no taboo topics. We are literally open to any topic, even socially sensitive ones.”

In developing Seejal, Khadija traveled to four countries in North Africa, meeting with countless students to understand their needs. She says that, “Millennials are really looking for updated knowledge. With current sources, they can find information that universities or schools do not give them.” Seejal provides this knowledge. To date, Seejal has collected 650 websites and blogs of repute for student access and interaction. Khadija thinks this number will increase as more African and Western sources are popping up online, in modern standard Arabic.

 

The African Entrepreneurship Award Opened a Huge Window of Opportunity

Mentoring proved crucial for Khadija for the entire journey since 2015 as she pivoted her way to Seejal. She says bluntly, “I owe it to AEA to have gone through so many learning experiences. The feedback which I received was a huge window into what I was lacking in terms of knowledge.”

She describes her process:

“Every question that any mentor asked me, I used to write them down in a notebook. Every single comment.”