The Near East Foundation recently held two workshops to launch the Empowering Youth through Entrepreneurship in Morocco (EYEM) project, which addresses high youth unemployment and engages young people in becoming drivers of regional economic and enterprise development. The $1.9 million project, funded by the U.S. Department of State’s Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) and implemented in partnership with the Moroccan Association for the Support and Promotion of Small Businesses and the Moroccan Social Solidarity Economy Network, will build upon NEF’s long-standing work with existing youth associations to leverage and bridge critical resources in the region.
The EYEM project will work with 400 young men and women, between the ages of 18 to 30, to develop the skills necessary to start, maintain, and grow 250 small businesses in four communes. The project will help to redefine prevailing cultural and social barriers facing female entrepreneurs.
The launch workshops, held in El Jadida and Safi in March 2015, brought together more than 130 individuals, including project and local partners, and representatives from the communes, the Regional Center for Investment, the National Agency for the Promotion of Employment and Skills, the Office of Vocational Training and Employment Promotion, various ministries and government institutions, local universities and academic institutions, and civil society and youth organizations. Joseph Essex, Regional Democracy and Governance Coordinator for MEPI, participated in the El Jadida workshop, where he had an opportunity to interact with the youth councils and meet with EYEM partners.
Through NEF’s work on the youth component of USAID’s Local Governance Program (LGP) from 2010 to 2014, dialogue between youth and their elected officials in Morocco increased and local youth councils were established to facilitate and promote dialogue between youth and the government in 10 communes.
In supporting local youth councils in El Jadida, Moulay Abdellah, Jemaat Sehaim, and Safi, the EYEM project will advance the LGP project’s efforts to address youth unemployment—one of the most common concerns in Morocco—by providing entrepreneurial training, forming support networks, and promoting social enterprises in areas where youth unemployment is highest.