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MolenGeek founder named Brusseleer of the Year

14:52 19/11/2021

Ibrahim Ouassari, co-founder and CEO of tech training non-profit MolenGeek, is Brusseleir van ’t joêr, or Brusseleer of the Year. The title is handed out every year by Brusseleir during its Weik van ’t Brussels – Week of the Brussels Dialect.

Ouassari (pictured) co-founded MolenGeek in 2016, just when the municipality for which it was named was getting dragged through the mud the world over for being home to the men involved in the Paris and Brussels terrorist attacks.

The organisation trains people – with an emphasis on young, local residents with limited educational backgrounds – in coding and computer science in general. The goal is to give trainees the skills they need to start their own businesses in web design and mobile applications.

Since it was founded, MolenGeek has trained thousands of people, received investment funds from Google, entered internship deals, opened a co-working space and launched a number of specific courses, including digital marketing and Photoshop. It has also inspired other cities to start their own similar initiatives, including in Antwerp, Amsterdam and Padova.

“This prize is such a huge honour for me,” said Ouassari, who grew up in Molenbeek. “This is the first prize I have ever been awarded. MolenGeek has won many prizes, but this individual prize touches me. It is a real honour to be Brusseleeir van ’t joêr.”

Brusseleir also awards the title of Brusseleir vè et Leive, or Brusseleer for Life. This year the honour went to former politician Hugo Weckx (CD&V), who served as a city councillor in Berchem-Sainte-Agathe and sat in the Brussels and federal parliaments.

“This is such a nice award,” said Weckx. “If you are pronounced a Brusseleir a few weeks before your 87th birthday, that’s a real gift.”

Photo ©JC Guillaume

Written by Lisa Bradshaw