Ibrahim Ouassari, founder and CEO of MolenGeek, has officially been named the Brussels citizen of the year, the non-profit organisation Brusseleir! announced early Thursday afternoon in the café La Fleur en Papier Doré.
Ouassari’s initiative to bring together talents from disadvantaged neighbourhoods and the world of technology via the MolenGeek project saw him receive the reward, Belga News Agency reports.
After years spent working in technology, Ouassari set up MolenGeek in 2015 to develop appropriate environments for talent discovery.
According to its website, MolenGeek positions itself as on a mission to “raise awareness of entrepreneurship” and serves as the “beginning of the entrepreneur’s journey.” In this capacity, the school offers events and a coding school to help entrepreneurs learn, and a place to let them work.
MolenGeek now has several branches in Belgium (Molenbeek, Laeken, Antwerp and Charleroi), the Netherlands (Amsterdam and Rotterdam) and Italy (Padua). In 2020, the CEO of Google, Sundar Pichai, visited MolenGeek during a trip to Brussels, granting them a €200,000 check to go to training programmes that help people with diverse backgrounds find employment.
“This new support from Google will enable us to continue to offer the younger generation a way to invest in themselves,” said co-founder Ouassari, said at the time. 93% of MolenGeek’s graduates have either founded a start-up or found a job in the digital industry, according to the association’s own figures.
Brusseleir for life
Ouassari was not the only person honoured in Thursday’s ceremony, which saw Hugo Weckx elected Brusseleir for life because of his commitment to Brussels culture and community life during the same ceremony.
Weckx is a child of Koekelberg and served as CD&V minister for the Flemish community in the Geens III government in 1988. In addition to his political career and served as chairman of the Dutch-speaking Commission for Culture in Brussels.
“He founded the Brussels Chamber Theater, was chairman of the Brussels section of the Davidsfonds , chairman of the Brussels Operetta Theater, chairman of the Flemish Cultuurhuis De Brakke Grond in Amsterdam, chairman and honorary chairman of Passaporta, manager of the Contact and Cultural Center Brussels , board member van Muntpunt and the Koninklijke Muntschouwburg , etc,” Brusseleir explained on the announcement.