Meet a Super Inspiring Moroccan Woman Fighting Poverty & Illiteracy

Meet Manal Elattir, a mentee of Fortune's Most Powerful Women and crusader for social justice and empowerment.

Meet a Super Inspiring Moroccan Woman Fighting Poverty & Illiteracy

Meet Manal Elattir, a mentee of Fortune’s Most Powerful Women and crusader for social justice and empowerment.

-Harvey Helms

manal elattir

One of my all time favorite movies is Casablanca. I think it’s one of the best films ever made. I saw it recently and every time I see it I fall in love with Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman all over again. I must admit though that every time I see it I want Bergman to stay with Bogie instead of flying off to Lisbon to escape to America! What a love story! I’ve never been to Morocco but recently I had the chance to spend some time and absolutely fall in love with a very special woman from Morocco, who is empowering women to be the best they can be. And yes, I can be someone’s Cyber Main Gay long distance! Ladies! Meet Manal Elattir!

I met Manal at Fish & Richardson’s L.E.A.D conference. If you missed my last column here’s the info!

Manal is the Founder and President of IMDAD for SocialEntrepreneurship. She is one of the mentees in the Fortune Most Powerful Women Global Mentoring Program. She’s in the United States and just spent a month being mentored by some of the most powerful women in the world (Susan Wojcicki and Megan Smith of Google, Kathi Lutton of Fish & Richardson and many other women who step up to help them). Manal will take all she’s learning and this new network of empowering womenback to Morocco where she’ll mentor rural Moroccan women to become successful entrepreneurs themselves.

manal elattir kathy lutton
Manal and Kathi Lutton

What an incredible undertaking in helping other women learn to help themselves through education and networking! This is women helping women in it’s truest, most altruistic sense.

Manal believes that Moroccan women are the only hope for pulling rural Morocco out of poverty and social injustices. Two staggering facts just stopped me in my gay tracks! Over 4 million people live below the national poverty line and 89 percent of women are illiterate in Morocco.

When I saw Manal speak, she quoted actress / filmmaker Jennifer Newsom, saying: “Women cannot be what they cannot see!”

I love that! So when Manal returns, her foundation will be taking an “Empowerment Cruising Caravan” across rural Morocco to help women see what they can be! Manal’s cruising caravan mission is clear and focused.

These rural women will begin to:

*Strengthen their literacy, leadership and management skills through workshops

*Teach and integrate technology and social media in their success process.

*Provide a National & International marketing support mechanisms to encourage social entrepreneurship.

These Moroccan women make the most incredible artisan crafts of all kinds! Manal travelled with several samples that we all went crazy over! From decorative table wear to luxurious bags — gorgeousness everywhere. Of course we immediately wanted to buy everything she had!

Moroccan crafts

So I guess in a nutshell, these fabulous items will become a foundation for rural Moroccan women to create successful businesses while empowering themselves! Brilliant!

Moroccan crafts

If you’d like to find out how to help Manal and the women of Morocco, simply visit to and check out Manal speaking about her mission! If you want to be part of the amazing network helping Manal and can connect her with markets for her goods, please Facebook Manal or let me know!

Wednesday night, Manal completed her mentorship in New York with her fellow 23 mentees from around the world.

Fortune Most Powerful Women Mentees

It was a touching evening with everyone from Barbara Walters to Martha Stewart to Chelsea Clinton in the room.

manal elattir kathy lutton chelsea clinton
Kathi Lutton, Manal and Chelsea Clinton

Susan Chambers, Chief People Officer of Walmart, spoke about the Joplin tornado and how adversity often brings out the best in humanity. Ursula Burns, the first black CEO of a Fortune 500 company, was interviewed by the fabulous Pattie Sellers about her decision to stick it out at Xerox when the going got tough.

Here’s a clip of Manal speaking:

Overall the evening, the Fortune mentoring program, and Manal all embody what I love most: Women empowering women!

Here’s looking at you kid!



Read all of Harvey’s BettyConfidential articles here.

Harvey HelmsHarvey Helms is a beauty culturist and writer, drawing on 30 years of experience in cosmetics, fashion and design. Harvey has held positions ranging from Global Director of Beauty for Revlon Cosmetics to Executive Director of Special Events for Donna Karan Beauty. Harvey currently lives and works in Silicon Valley, where he just finished writing his first book in a trilogy of three: an engaging tell-all on the fashion industry. Follow Harvey on Twitter at

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