Creating Jobs For and By Youth

This project was born out of a shared passion to help youth help themselves. Our project seeks to build dynamic and trained young entrepreneurs that can create new businesses and employment in Morocco.

The Locale: Imouzzer-Kandar

Imouzzer-Kandar is a town nestled at the entrance of the Middle Atlas Mountains, roughly 40km south of Fez. It has a population of 15,000 people of which most are members of the Berber ethnic group.

The local economy consists mainly of agriculture and tourism, with the main agricultural product being apples. During the summer months the town triples in size with tourists from all over Morocco flocking to enjoy its mild climate.     “Ain Soltane,” a fresh water spring and bottled water company named after the same, sells its water nationally and employs a respectable number of people in the town. However, the apple fields of Imouzzer are the main cash crop of the region, and support much commerce and seasonal employment. Like many of the places in Morocco, Imouzzer-Kandar continues to struggle with a high unemployment rate, particularly among its youth.

The Need

The Grameen Foundation Reports that with a population of 32 million people Morocco is the second largest country in the Middle East North Africa (MENA) region; it is estimated that 14% of the population lives below US $2 a day. Morocco continues to grapple with a high illiteracy

rate, low education enrollment rate, and high unemployment rate of around 30%. The Human Development Index gave the country a rank of 130 out of 182 countries in 2009. A recent World

Bank survey revealed that 49% of Moroccans are neither in school nor the workforce, suggesting that progress in educational attainment has not translated into effective transitions in the labor market.

Current financial service providers in Morocco, both the commercial banks and burgeoning microfinance sector, do not adequately meet the needs of Moroccan youth. Providing traditional microcredit for income generating activities among youth is not sufficient because of a general lack of even basic business skills among these youth. Furthermore, Morocco’s working age youth unemployment rates are at dangerously high levels according to the World Bank, Carnegie Foundation, and International Finance Corp. The situation couldn’t be more urgent. Increasing poverty and a lack of economic opportunity has led to a widespread sense of hopelessness and an alarming number of youth have taken to extreme measures such as self-immolation to drive awareness of the crisis. According to this World Bank report one in three young adults in Morocco are looking for ways to leave the country in search of economic opportunity. New measures are needed to provide relevant skills, promote youth entrepreneurship, and promote active youth participation (youth inclusion) in all aspects of society.

As reported in the Middle East Youth Initiative the current age structure of the Moroccan population is characterized by the predominance of youth aged 15-24. The share of youth in the population grew from about 17 percent in 1971 to a little over 21 percent in 2004. Morocco is at the height of its “youth bulge”. This youth bulge is regarded as one of the main causes of unemployment because the number of jobseekers is increasing much faster than the number of jobs that the economy can create. While this argument may seem legitimate in light of the current economic context, a youth bulge should naturally be considered a demographic gift. By building the human capital of young workers and providing them with opportunities to use their skills, Morocco can increase incomes per capita, bolster savings and improve social welfare. While some have viewed the youth bulge as a danger, we at Greenside along with many others including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other thought leaders in the field see the potential positive impact of how this “demographic gift” could be an asset for development.

At present there is a scarcity of young people in Morocco with even the most basic business skills. Entrepreneurship training programs (currently offered predominantly through not-for profit organizations) need to address such skills in a targeted, scalable manner. This report argues that such programs also need to reach out to rural areas, and look into combining access to (micro) financing with entrepreneurship-related education. An e4e (Education For Employment) report highlights 3 main areas for the private sector to fill the void left by government and business: 1) vocational education and training (VET), 2) work-readiness, 3) and university education.