While a college student in Fés, Morocco, Ola Barramou took a trip with a nongovernmental group to an impoverished village, where she and the others met with village women to try to convince them to farm snails as a way to add to their meager incomes.
The project failed because neither the mentors nor the village women had appropriate expertise, and the rush to implement snail farming left the villagers frustrated.
Despite the failure of that effort, Barramou did not give up on the idea. Six months ago, she met an agronomist with whom she went over what went wrong the first time. He pointed out some mistakes and encouraged her to try again. And she did.
This time though, “we are taking it step by step,” Barramou said. Her startup, Snail, is raising money from family, friends and angel investors to supplement international grants and monetary awards from business competitions.
With help from the agronomist, the company is training six carefully selected women in techniques of “gros gris” snail farming in the Moulay Yacoub area of Morocco. Its goal is to reach the international market with fatter profit margins by offering high-quality, year-round supplies of snails.
Barramou also wants to save the gros gris species, which is quickly disappearing from the natural environment as the local population increasingly resorts to picking wild snails for sale.
To polish her business skills, Barramou participated in a startup boot camp in Casablanca sponsored by the Global Innovation through Science and Technology program, which is run by the U.S. Department of State. A year from now, she plans to graduate, have at least one farm established, and be fully engaged in recruiting and training more women farmers.
Let Snail and other green innovations inspire you during Global Entrepreneurship Week (November 17–23) and the Global Entrepreneurship Summit, which this year is happening in Marrakech, Morocco (November 19–21). These events celebrate people who create economic benefits for their communities.