NEF works with young people whose options are limited by lack of schooling, high unemployment rates, lack of credit, and in some cases refugee status. In Morocco, where young people account for 44 percent of the working age population, over half are out of school and out of work. Entrepreneurship is rarely encouraged, and risks are high for those that pursue their own businesses. The result is unemployed and disenfranchised youth who feel that the system has let them down. To address this, NEF has been working to foster a spirit of entrepreneurship among Moroccan youth, providing training, coaching, and mentoring, creating support networks, and awarding grants to youth with viable business plans.
“The project has had a big impact on me, not just financially, but also on my family.”
Only a few years ago, Jalal was a young man selling his art to tourists and making barely enough to get by. After getting married and the arrival of his first child, he knew that he had to make something more of his talents. He met with NEF’s Empowering Youth Through Entrepreneurship project staff and says, “That was the meeting that changed my life.”
Like many young people in Morocco, Jalal did not know how to start his own business, especially in the non-traditional field of metal art sculpture. He had no money to invest and needed guidance on how to manage a small business. With training, coaching, connection to business networks, and a grant through NEF and its partners, Jalal now runs a successful shop where he produces and sells his art. He has been invited to display his work at regional and national exhibitions.
For Jalal and many others, the opportunity to start a business and build a future is also cultivating young leaders in Morocco. Sharing that the project inspired him to become an activist for youth causes, Jalal now leads a local entrepreneurship association and is an active member of an equal opportunity advocacy organization.