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Innovation Obstacles

Updated: Jul 15, 2019

Over the last several years, numerous articles have discussed the challenges posed by federal agencies or state officials or even municipal regulations that impede entrepreneurs and innovation. While some regulation at a federal or state or municipal level is necessary, more often the challenge is the result of some agency (or official) attempting to protect the status quo with little discernible understanding about the impact that has on startups which need to move quickly.


After witnessing the experience of an entrepreneur (and my friend) in Morocco, I'm convinced that we who focus on innovation in the US have a situation that is far more conducive to making business happen.


Casablanca Market

My friend wanted to determine the requirements for shipping raw minerals in a cargo hold out of Morocco and into another country. Had she been in the US, Soraya could no doubt go to the Department of Commerce web site and begin gathering the information that she needed. Since she lives in Morocco, the process is substantially different and more complex.

Our journey to gather information began by going to the Port of Casablanca, which is comprised of not only docks for ships, but somewhere between fifteen and twenty government buildings, each dedicated to a process related to shipping goods in and out of Morocco.


Since the government buildings aren't well marked or identified, Soraya talked to a guard to figure out where she needed to begin. He had no idea and referred us to two other guards who sent us to a building roughly 100 meters away. We went into the building and found an office that contained a waiting area and three windows along a far wall with people behind them answering questions. We went to each of them to get answers and they had no idea how to help Soraya find the information she was seeking. We returned to the first guard who let us pass into a different building in the opposite direction.


We walked into the building and presented identification to the receptionist who told us to go to the second floor. We walked along the corridor of the second and Soraya poked her head into three  different offices and talking with government employees before discovering that we needed to be on the third floor, not the second where the receptionist directed us.


At last, we arrive at the information systems director's office where a fifteen minute conversation takes place. The situation is unworkable, but they are  adamant about continuing with the same process despite the fact that it doesn't work! The IS director sends us to yet another office and we wait to talk with yet another official. While Soraya goes into the office to discuss her requirements, I wait outside on a bench watching people go in and out of this government office.


So far everyone that has exited this latest office, comes out the door and walks directly to an easel to get additional information. It's amazing to me that at this point Soraya and I have spent three hours and walked far more than our daily 10,000 steps with still no answer to her questions.


In the last office we visit, one of the government officials tells Soraya that she must complete a paper form and mail it to the office. She isn't allowed to complete there and hand it off to an official.


Soraya isn't the only creative and talented entrepreneur I met in Morocco. The country has hundreds, maybe even thousands, of people just like Soraya, who see ways to innovate and make life better for themselves and their country.


However, they must work through a government bureaucracy that is antiquated and almost inimical to new ideas or innovation.


It astonishes me that countries, and Morocco isn't the only one, won't do more to enable the entrepreneurial spirit in their citizens. Clearly their citizens won't be able to compete effectively when other countries have worked to streamline their processes to encourage new ideas and innovation.


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#innovation #economy