Moroccan Youth Awarded Small Business Grants in the Highly Competitive Machrou3i DreamUp Competition

Over 260 youth applied to participate in the DreamUp competition in El Jadida and Safi. Forty selected youth participated in training and coaching events organized by the Machrou3i incubators, a project funded by MEPI that provides support and coaching to youth entrepreneurs, to develop their business plans. In the final competition, the top ten selected youth presented their innovative projects and business plans in front of a selection committee of local economic actors and an audience of interested individuals. The selection committee scored plans based on a number of criteria including the level of innovation presented in the business concept, the ability of the business to introduce new technologies, well-defined social or environmental benefits, and the ability of the business to eventually create new jobs.

DreamUP selection committee.

The selection committee—who have been highly engaged throughout the EYEM project in business plan review and other activities—were highly impressed with the quality of presentations and innovation of business plans. The individuals on the selection committee represented partner organizations including: Regional Delegation for Commerce and Industry of El Jadida, the Regional Investment Center (CRI), and ANAPEC. They have all been engaged throughout the project, and participated in over 20 of the selection committees. Four youth were selected to receive in-kind grants of $2,000 USD to launch their plans. These youth will receive ongoing mentoring and coaching through the incubators, developing and promoting these important enterprise development structures in El Jadida and Safi.

In bringing together local actors, the event also provided new connections and opportunities for youth. As an example, the representative from the National Human Development Initiative (INDH) was highly impressed by the projects presented and encouraged youth to consider forming cooperatives and apply for funding. While the INDH only funds cooperatives, they struggle to find enough quality, innovative projects, such as those presented in this event, to support with their available funds. A second DreamUp competition hosted by the Machrou3i incubators in Moulay Abdellah and Jemaat Shim awarded an additional grant to a young entrepreneur.


Transforming Spaces with New Art: Youssef Hamlouchi, a 34-year-old entrepreneur from El Jadida, did not finish his studies—leaving in high school.
With YouTube videos and self-study, he taught himself new and innovative concepts in 3D design and arts. He is using his innovative techniques to transform spaces with special 3D designs.

Farida El Meskine presents her business.

A Mom with a Plan: Farida El Meskine, a 33-year-old mother from Safi, has developed a business concept for a cloth diapering enterprise. With a degree in computer management and studies in clothing design, she is building on her experience as a mother to develop her business plan to support young parents in more economically diapering their children. Further, cloth diapering has an important environmental impact by reducing trash.

Bringing Light to Poor Communities: Zakaria Rai, a 23-year-old engineering student in his 3rd year at university in Safi, has developed a social enterprise
to bring environmentally friendly lighting to remote and impoverished communities in Morocco and throughout Africa. His business concept offers two forms of solar/environmentally sustainable lighting—one for regular use and one for use in high-class hotels.

E-commerce Innovator: Mohammed Yassine Cherad, a 24-year-old from Jemaat Shim, developed a landscaping and interior design business. He will offer a variety of plant and floral sculptures for household and garden decoration.

El Jadida Showcase

The DreamUp competition was complemented by a showcase event in El Jadida featuring youth entrepreneurs and businesses launched through the EYEM project. Organized in partnership Province of El Jadida National Initiative for Human Development on the celebration of its twelfth anniversary, the showcase event—held May 19-21, 2017—allowed young entrepreneurs to present their products and services to potential customers as well as
network with fellow business owners.

Held in the Mohamed V Park in El Jadida, the showcase event included 20 stands—12 projects developed by EYEM youth, and 8 by cooperatives funded by INDH. Supporting Youth Entrepreneurship Both the DreamUp and showcase events aimed to promote the spirit of entrepreneurship and innovation among young people in Morocco and to inform young people on the advantages of the Machrou3i business incubators and their role in regional youth economic development.

The EYEM project has reached more than 3,000 youth in its efforts to promote the spirit of entrepreneurship, provided business development training to more than 349 young people, and funded 255 new businesses with start up assistance.