NAME: RAJA FELGATA
COMPANY: MOGADOR PRODUCTIONS
IN THE NETHERLANDS SINCE: 1975
Although Raja Felgata respected Moroccan traditions, her liberal character came into conflict with the established order at a young age. While studying journalism she had already come to the conclusion that she had to work harder than her fellow students because of her background. But that only strengthened her commitment to her goals: to contribute something, and to deliver a message. As a Moroccan she found Dutch media reporting one-sided and not ‘colourful’ enough. She was convinced that, with her Mediterranean temperament, her Dutch directness and her colourful appearance, she could fire up the media environment and had the ambition to become a news reader. She started at local radio station Amsterdam FM, became a TV news reader at Amsterdam’s At5 and then a presenter, programme maker and editor for Moslem Broadcasting (Nederlandse Moslim Omroep). After her studies she worked at various broadcasting newsrooms, but in 2007 she was again looking for a new challenge: She wanted to establish something of her own and go her own way. Apart from journalistic skills, did she also have entrepreneurism in her blood? It was time to set up Mogador Productions – despite the economic crisis. At Mogador she combines her Moroccan temperament and passion with Dutch common sense.
1. How long have you been in The Netherlands?
I was born in Amsterdam in 1975.
2. How did you become an entrepreneur and why?
I come from a family of entrepreneurs. At the end of the sixties my father decided to go to The Netherlands, followed a few years later by my mother. He is one of the first-generation Moroccans, who have worked hard for this country, and I am proud of that. My mother studied sociology and went to work at a bank, which was very progressive at the time, especially for a (Moroccan) woman. She encouraged her three daughters to study and to be independent. I did secondary school, then A-levels equivalent, followed by journalism at tertiary level. I became the first Moroccan newsreader on TV and then worked for Muslim Broadcasting. I graduated and wanted to be more involved with the content side of TV.
The period of Pim Fortuyn and Theo van Gogh made for an interesting social debate and I wanted to contribute as a journalist. After three weeks at VARA (a Dutch TV channel) doing exciting editorial work, I was approached by KRO (TV) for their news and current affairs program, ‘Good Morning Netherlands’. I took the job, on condition that I could also exert influence on the programme’s content. One of my little victories was to reach a million viewers a day. It all meant hard work and I barely had a social life, but I had a mission – for which one should be prepared to make sacrifices. In 2007 I wanted to go my own way and set up something of my own. I wanted to distinguish myself as a Moroccan world citizen via my own media productions, and so I set up Mogador Productions. In 2010 the women’s magazine, Opzij, published a list of the most powerful women. The list lacked colour, in my opinion. In reaction I published my own ‘colourful women’s list’. My aim was to provide a platform for talented women from a variety of different backgrounds, increasing their visibility – as well as the awareness of diversity in business and in the media. I attracted a lot of attention with this and even received a decoration for promoting democracy. Two years later came a ‘colourful’ list of both Dutch women and men – and now I’m also going to focus on an international list.
3. Did you encounter problems when you wanted to become an entrepreneur?
From childhood I’ve been accustomed to fighting for my position as a woman. Even though I was sometimes literally told, ‘You won’t succeed with that’, by persevering, focussing and putting in a lot of hard work I have always achieved my goal. I was able to convert my fighting spirit into positive energy, with which I hope to inspire many others.
4. What are the differences between doing business in The Netherlands and in Morocco?
The Dutch are very down-to-earth and direct, also in business. That sort of directness doesn’t work in Morocco. Here you go straight for what you want, in Morocco that sort of thing requires a whole different approach, making business much more time consuming.
5. What is typically Dutch when it comes to doing business and being an entrepreneur?
Besides common sense and directness, people are much more individualistic in The Netherlands, although I find that aspect has reduced somewhat in the crisis. People give others a chance and help each other more, certainly as far as entrepreneurs are concerned. I, in particular, know how it feels when you’re begrudged something, so I think this is certainly a positive development.
6. What have you taken from both the Moroccan and Dutch cultures?
I have Moroccan passion and fire in combination with Dutch common sense. The best of two cultures. This mix empowers me and my striving to make a difference.
7. Would you ever go back to Morocco?
I like to go to Morocco to visit family and to meet interesting people, but The Netherlands remains my base.
8. What are the secrets of your success?
– I am proud of where I come from. It’s the source of my strength and creativity.
– My optimism and recognising opportunities instead of obstacles. With this mindset I can deal with setbacks – and I’ve had a few of these in the past year.
– Entrepreneurship is like top-level sport, you fall, get up and go again, onward and upward, you are an entrepreneur 24 hours a day. And resilience is a blessing. The ‘colourful’ perspective is a way of life and opens many doors.
9. What is your favourite fruit, and why?
The date – a healthy piece of fruit with natural sugars. And pineapples – sweet, healthy and fresh.
10. What is your favourite Dutch product and/or location?
My favourite Dutch product is cheese, I really enjoy a brown bread sandwich with young cheese!
And my favourite location is Amsterdam West, where you have the whole world rolled into one.
TIPS from Raja
1. Be yourself and be proud of where you come from.
2. Don’t be too modest and don’t be afraid to fail.
3. Explore your limits and set goals.
4. Step out of your comfort zone.
5. Dare to ask!