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Diaspo #144 : Rachid Saïdi, from medicine to hotel entrepreneurship

When he was a medical student in Paris, Rachid Saïdi ended up in the hotel industry, distinguishing himself in this sector. Today, his hotels host and fully support Moroccans stranded in France since the introduction of the sanitary measures linked to the coronavirus.

Rachid Saidi, head of operations at Monsieur hotels in Paris. / Ph. DR
Estimated read time: 4'

Born in Temara, Rachid Saïdi grew up in a small and modest family, who always dreamed of seeing him as a doctor, although he had always dreamed of entrepreneurship. Born to a father from the Middle Atlas and working for the army, he recalled having always had to fend for himself. Indeed, while only 12 years old, he would already prefer to count on himself to provide for his own needs.

«I did not accept my parents' money: each summer, I went out by myself to sell ice cream or donuts by the seaside. Sometimes I would even go to the wholesale market to get a lot of figs that I would sell back to buy my school books myself for the next school year», he told Yabiladi.

Rachid Saïdi’s sense of initiative was thence cultivated, from an early age. Later, he joined the military college of Kenitra and for family reasons, he went on to live in San Diego, California, then in Sweden and eventually in Germany. He profited from his time in each of these places to keep supporting himself with his own means and learn new languages. His journey then led him to Paris in 1999, where he started graduate studies in medicine. His future in the hotel industry would take shape from then on. 

A new life in the hotel business

In the fifth year of his medicine studies, Rachid Saïdi had already been into severe financial issues when trying to finance his studies, but, once again he did not rely on his family for help. Indeed, he would study at the university by day and work as a hotel receptionist by night. This was still not enough to afford his rent and sometimes even his meals. All these financial problems led him to sleep in a Paris subway station for two weeks, while still attending classes.

«The cleaning staff would wake me up around 3 a.m. to clean the station with a lot of water, then I would get back to my spot to sleep, until commuters would get back to the station and it would be time for me to go to the university», he recalled. In 2004, Rachid Saïdi could not carry on and decided to take a sabbatical year: he left the medicine field to continue working in the hotel industry. His employers were satisfied with his services as a night receptionist, and he quickly got promoted to the first reception schedule, before becoming head of reception, manager, then operations manager until 2013.

With entrepreneurship in his blood, Rachid Saïdi is proud to say today that he has created his own path as a self-taught businessman, who has never had any academic training in commerce or hospitality management. Relying on his own means for over ten years, he believes that his transition from medicine to the hotel industry was not that difficult. From spending the night in the streets in 2004, he went on to become business manager in 2014, creating his own business, supporting hotels in the management and the purchase of real estate to convert property into hotels.

Rachid Saïdi’s company provides consulting services, contracting and project management, and supervises the purchase of property as well as their conversion into hotels. «Life is knowledge where you have to learn everything and create the opportunity to do so», he said. At 42 years old, he has now successfully overlooked the purchase of nine properties, notably for Les Hôtels Monsieur, as operations manager. «We are in several Parisian districts: the first, the third, the sixth, the eighth, the ninth, the eleventh and the eighteenth, and we also operate a ski resort», he told Yabiladi. His next projects aim to expand this network to other French cities, but also to develop abroad.

«My parents wanted me to be a doctor, but today they are proud of my choice, which they quickly accepted. Now they can travel all over the world!», he said with great pride.

«My mother couldn't believe it. She used to say that she didn't even take the train and that today, she hops on planes to go to Saint-Tropez!»

Rachid Saïdi

Return to family values

Even after having climbed the ladder, Rachid Saïdi did not forget where he came from. Touched by the situation of Moroccans stranded in France, he recalled having himself had to survive without accommodation. This prompted him to quickly take the initiative to make announcements on social media to offer accommodation in properties owned by the hotel group he works for. «I would also like to thank my employers for their confidence, which today allows us to take care of at least 29 people, especially in the sixth arrondissement», he emphasized.

During these difficult times, Rachid Saïdi has also provided help to three fellow Moroccan women who were stranded in France while pregnant. He mobilized medical teams to ensure their babies would be delivered safely and ensured that these interventions would not be paid for by the mothers, but by the Moroccan consular services.

Many fellow nationals also needed support with the administrative procedures related to the extension of their visas, access to medical care or to the services offered by Moroccan consular representations and French authorities. «Everyone participated: the Moroccans residing in France, the Morocco ambassador himself, the consuls as well as the fellow Moroccans who were stranded», the entrepreneur said, expressing his pride in this surge of solidarity.

Indeed, his concern has been to ensure that «nobody would miss anything and would not have to pay for anything». Thus, a large network of volunteers organized to prepare hot meals, hold sporting or collective activities, and even host a party. In all, the distribution of meals reaches up to 300 daily meals, intended even for people who are not accommodated in the hotels but who are in need.

«Moroccans residing in France shared their wages with stranded Moroccans and helped us by hosting them under their own roofs, others prepared food or organized the daily errands», he recalls. This momentum has been extended to other cities with the constitution of a national network of administrative assistance for stranded Moroccans, through Rachid's friends, notably in Lyon, Marseille, and the Île-de-France region. 

Rachid Saïdi believes that the efficiency of this organization is due to being «back to basics and family values». «We lived modestly but we were overwhelmed with happiness, because we received the love of our parents who transmitted to us these notions of sharing and solidarity», he recalled.

«I have lived in wealth and in the streets, my life was full of ups and downs, so I can still live happily and humanly rich even when if I am poor and that is what has facilitated all this organization», explained Rachid also recalling that «we must always put ourselves in the place of others». A nice praise to empathy and solidarity in these difficult times.

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