Taoufik Amzile is a socially engaged Muslim entrepreneur who is passionate about helping disadvantaged youth ump-start their professional careers. With his association called LEAD (Les entrepreneurs actifs de la diversité) he tries to bridge communities and create opportunities for minority youth.
Every year nearly 5,000 aspiring leaders participate in the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) to experience the United States firsthand. These exchanges allow participants to cultivate lasting relationships with their American counterparts in a wide variety of fields.
In recalling his IVLP experience, Taoufik explains: “In 2010 I participated in the IVLP program. The exchange was wonderful! The topics of my trip were diversity, management, interfaith, and entrepreneurship. These are exactly the topics I’m active on in Belgium. To be honest, it was a very inspiring journey. I met a lot of interesting people. People committed to get things moving and offering plenty of good advice.”
“Once back to Belgium, I felt so enriched by all these meetings and experiences,” he adds. “It was a very positive influence in my work on a daily basis.”
Taoufik Amzile considers himself a Belgian-Moroccan. He is a socially engaged Muslim entrepreneur, husband, and dad. As an entrepreneur, he works for banks and companies, providing them with analysis, consultancy services, and project management.
He is passionate about his work in the social field: “I help youngsters with diverse roots to jump-start their professional life, helping them to set up startups and offering them career advice. I do this with my association called LEAD, les entrepreneurs actifs de la diversité.”
For almost ten years now Taoufik has been busy creating a very interesting ecosystem with different partners in Brussels and elsewhere in Belgium. He tries to encourage and facilitate empowering socio-economic activities.
“We have created ties with institutions, companies, academics, and people. I look at LEAD as a bridge between communities, especially Muslim communities. As facilitator, we create opportunities and make sure that young kids from Brussels have access to the different actors in society.”
“Find purpose in what you do and make sure it matches your values.”
Taoufik realizes the question of diversity is a tough one. He has a continuous debate on the issue of identity but he personally feels at ease with the question. “I have come to accept my roots. I was born in Belgium at the crossroads of different cultural sensitivities. I’m of Moroccan descent, I’m a Muslim, but I’m also European and all of this at the same time. I don’t feel like I have to make a choice, Western or Muslim? I’m a Western Muslim living in Belgium. I feel completely at ease with that!”
Dealing with diversity and identity on a daily basis is not easy. “Every day you learn from your own and other people’s mistakes,” Taoufik explains. “My advice is to just constantly be yourself. Your identity can be a source of pride. It shouldn’t be something you try to hide or manage depending on the situation you are in. You are who you are and people have to accept that. Whether I go to my daughter’s school, or visit one of my clients, I’m still the same person.”
It makes Taoufik happy to directly or indirectly help others succeed: “I’m an entrepreneur so I work mostly in the private sector. Entrepreneurs dare to take risks and seize opportunities. At the moment I’m working mostly with entrepreneurs from the Jewish community. I set up meetings with Muslim entrepreneurs on a regular basis. I try to bridge the gap between the communities, that’s what I’m experimenting with.” Everyone should try this, he says. “Whatever your field of expertise – doctors, lawyers, architects – everyone can find a way to bring people closer together through their occupation or interests.”
So what is Taoufik Amzile’s dream? “I dream of a Brussels as a marvelous lab, a social experiment. Brussels counts almost 150 nationalities. This diversity is a richness to be proud of.”“Just try! You never know, maybe you will succeed.”