JustJobs Scholarship Scholarship

Mounir Fellahi – JustJob Scholarship Finalist for August 2012

The hierarchical framework of Morocco doomed people without aristocratic ancestry or political rank to endure a fate of unemployment and poverty. Most high school graduates of my class were either trapped in idleness or befallen into some depraved circumstance. After three years of restless search for employment, I succumbed to working on my grandmother’s poultry farm. It was hard physical labor, but nonetheless an escape from relentless worry over a wavering economy. I managed the livelihood of five hundred chickens. They were the basis of my family’s income and sustenance.

Local market competition depressed prices, reducing the value of each chicken and business dwindled. I worked longer hours, implemented changes to feed selection, minimized cost, and improved care and the living conditions of our chickens. Gradually, the quality of our chickens surpassed market average by weight and business fluctuated in our direction. My grandmother’s poultry farm gained prestige for producing quality chicken among local customers and professional aviculturists. Our reputation earned credit and borrowing power from banks leading to expansion of our poultry farm. Even the bird flu epidemic had minor impacts on business. Hence, my initial charge of five hundred chickens transformed into two thousand.

My experience and success in managing a poultry farm introduced me to the economic model of supply and demand. I saw the volatility of market prices for chickens changing daily with demand. Flooding local markets with our chickens would depreciate value per unit. With reputation and demand in our favor, we produced enough to meet daily sales and the occasional flux granting us the flexibility to set prices slightly above average. Even as loyal customers failed to pay, I developed a credit system without interest to help my community, earning myself praise and respect.

I observed the monetary dilemma challenging most Moroccans. Their contempt and refusal to conduct business with banks whose adoption of the Western bank model of loans and interests defy the principles of Islamic law. Additionally, banks were so obviously intertwined with the whims of government corruption that most people held on to the cash they earned rather than allocate to savings accounts, thus, limiting cash flow and public access to capital. I spent most of my spare time observing and reading into the stochastic processes of capital markets and empirical issues of banking and finance.

My timeline of defeats, hardships, successes, and humbleness are accomplishments that justify my presence in America. Reflecting on my incredible journey from sleeping in the slums of Morocco to sitting in a packed auditorium at UC Berkeley listening to a lecture on international economics with open thoughts and comments from students is a freedom I have grieved to possess. Because economics is so deeply rooted in the wealth and progression of a nation, I sought to understand and wield its potential for good. To represent the better part of my people and country, to educate the youth without regard to class; to confront dictatorial policy and political corruption reinstating jobs and steering the economy towards global prominence.’s scholarship program is proud to announce Mounir Fellahi as one of the seven finalists for its August 2012 application deadline. Vote for his essay (Facebook ‘Like’ and other social media sharing options in left column), and/or leave comments of support to help us with the selection process.