Sara Chetoui and the PMI Morocco Chapter
Number of Hours Pledged: 100
SDGs Supported: #1 No Poverty, #2 Zero Hunger, #3 Good Health and Well-Being, #8 Decent Work and Economic Growth
Summary: As the COVID-19 virus spread and global lockdowns began, Sara Chetoui and a group of friends and colleagues began searching for solutions to protect Moroccan citizens from severe economic hardship.
“We were working toward helping end poverty in all its forms and end hunger and achieve food security,” says Chetoui, VP of the PMI Morocco Chapter and a senior advisor for strategy and operations in the office of the Moroccan prime minister. “We especially were concerned about those families who lost their jobs due to the pandemic and wouldn’t be able to afford to pay their bills.”
Morocco has a social safety net for most of its citizens, but Chetoui says about 4.3 million families are working in the country’s “informal sector,” a gray economy where workers receive no pensions or health insurance and are not registered as part of Morocco’s National Social Security Fund. While restricting movement of citizens, closing borders and mandating mask-wearing helped save lives during the pandemic, it also put a huge financial stress on millions of Moroccans who lost work and had few economic resources to fall back on.
That crisis within a crisis motivated a group of volunteers, led by Chetoui, to help. The team quickly held online meetings and, in early April 2020, their initiative came into focus. The group’s solution: Set up a “social subscription,” where Moroccans could directly donate to a family in need. The program would provide a specific monthly income for a group of families and make that income last for at least four months.
“We first established a clear vision with objectives,” Chetoui says. “We designed a strategy with an action plan, including all staff requirements and the type of resources we’d need. Then we started calling colleagues with the expertise we needed for our initiative.”
Chetoui and others recruited volunteers with experience in digital marketing, digital design, data management, IT and social media. And the team set up a website for the project—named Pack Social—that would be the main conduit for funneling money from donors to beneficiaries.
Chetoui also pledged volunteer hours from the initiative to PMI Hours for Impact, which supports the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), focusing on the first three: No Poverty, Zero Hunger, and Good Health and Well-Being.
Promoting Economic Stability
Within six months, Pack Social had received widespread media coverage in Morocco, and 400 donors had contributed money to the effort. Some 100 households received a steady income of 2,500 Moroccan dirhams, or about US$228. That was the target amount of income set by Chetoui’s group, and it was enough to help beneficiaries pay a variety of bills—including critical ones like water and electricity—while keeping their families fed.
Even as the pandemic’s worst days receded, Pack Social’s positive impact continued—but with a shift in the strategy. The effort is now aimed at SDG 8, which focuses on providing “decent work and economic growth.” To that end, Chetoui says, “We are now supporting families’ efforts to design their own businesses and help them fundraise to get the business started.”
And for Chetoui, volunteering has come with both professional and personal rewards. “Professionally, Pack Social was an opportunity to apply my knowledge and experience to a social project with an impact,” she says. “And I also got new connections and even new friends. Doing good deeds is important to me. I consider it a duty to help others and give our time and money. Even the smallest actions can make a difference—and if we all band together, those small actions can add up to a big change.”