By Hassan Benmehdi
By Hassan Benmehdi
Marrakesh, January 21, 2011
Business leaders from Libya, Tunisia, Morocco, Mauritania, Algeria and the US agreed to set up a joint network to spur job creation in the Maghreb.
Over 400 young entrepreneurs gathered January 17th-18th in Marrakech to explore opportunities for partnerships and common projects. The second US-Maghreb Entrepreneurship Conference highlighted youth business opportunities as a fundamental aspect of Maghreb economic policies aimed at ensuring social peace and political stability.
The new Moroccan government sees youth employment as a high-priority issue, Economy and Finance Minister Nizar Baraka told Magharebia.
Participants addressed ways to create new jobs and business ventures as well as cultivate partnership links between the Maghreb and the United States.
Furthermore, they discussed the tools needed, be they technical, financial or legal, to meet the needs of young businesspeople.
“If we can provide young people with the help and support they need to realise their projects, then we will be in a position to combat rising unemployment in an effective way,” said Moussa Hachem, a young entrepreneur in the field of new communication technologies from Casablanca.
It is high time for young people in the Maghreb to work together and to promote a business culture in their countries, participants agreed. Youth entrepreneurs need support and educational programmes in line with the actual needs of the labour market, they stressed.
In conclusion, they called for the promotion of partnerships in the fields of training and coaching so that people can capitalise on successful experiences in the field.
El Hadi Belabbas, Tunisian Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs in charge of Asian and American relations, said that democratic development in the Maghreb would come about through international co-operation in the economic and social spheres.
For her part, former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said at the conference that young people must from now on be seen as real players and driving forces within their societies, not as mere consumers.
This partnership will allow young Maghreb entrepreneurs to realise their projects, to communicate with one another, to seek funding for their plans and to benefit from training sessions to consolidate their skills and learn languages, said US Assistant Secretary of State José W. Fernandez.
The US government has announced that it is putting the finishing touches to a $4 million programme to support young Maghreb entrepreneurs over the coming year.
The conference, which is the brainchild of Partners for a New Beginning (PNB) and the North Africa Partnership for Economic Opportunity (NAPEO), aims to stimulate partners in the worlds of business, universities and state bodies in the Maghreb and the US. The goal is to promote economic equality, encourage start-ups through training and greater access to capital, and inspire young entrepreneurs to play a role in generating jobs in the region.