Marshall Memorial Fellowship Reflections: Oilid Mountassar
I am what you would call a left-centrist in France with a strong belief in entrepreneurship as an enabler for minorities. I think that the government has become a burden on entrepreneurs and that our system needs more flexibility for them to thrive.
I went on the MMF journey looking for what makes the U.S. entrepreneurship arena so dynamic, and I found out that freedom and flexibility have a high cost.
A broad simplistic summary of what I heard is: It is the land of opportunities. Take your fate into your own hands, be an entrepreneur and work hard. You are generally advised to not ask for anything from others and fight for less government and taxes so that you can have more money for yourself.
This is great for those who succeed but it does not work out as well for those that do not succeed. One can say it is the natural selection of the free market and that anyone can make it. But is it really equal opportunity? And is it possible for anyone to access the fuel for growth i.e.: capital.
In Detroit, a large portion of the population is functionally illiterate. The African American population is getting out of the downtown area, which has become gentrified and is now more expensive than it was years ago. Most of them are locked in a generational cycle of poverty. Public schools are funded by local taxes and their quality is proportional to the wealth of the district.
For those who can afford it, you can get access to great private schools and get a good job. For the others, there are some diversity opportunities for the lucky few and the others have great entrepreneurship endless opportunities. The state might not be very supportive but thank God we have these good Samaritans running foundations and investing for the wellbeing of their communities. (The state might not be very supportive but supposedly good Samaritans running foundations and investing in their communities make it seem as if no one is left on the side of the road.)
In France, there is a similar push and pull for and from minorities to get financial independence through entrepreneurship.
Governments are supporting this agenda as a response to high unemployment. With the rise of the uberisation (increase employment through the “gig economy”) of the market, everyone can be an entrepreneur, and this is supposed to bring flexibility and endless opportunities.
As one of my MMF co-fellows noted, "the same things that make America great are the things that make it weak."
We need to ask ourselves about the future we want for Europe and what to take from the U.S.
Do we want a flexible society with only entrepreneurs or cheap workers disguised as entrepreneurs with the state responsibility for wealth redistribution outsourced to the "good Samaritans" competing in a free market? Or do we want to find innovative solutions to help minorities and enable them to access a larger capital so that they can scale up their ventures and reach real financial independence?
The views expressed in GMF publications and commentary are the views of the author alone.