Returned from Libya, an Artist Finds Success at Home Thanks to MEPI

Imad Elmarkchi immigrated to Libya to work as a laborer in construction and landscaping, hopeful to provide better economic opportunities for his family. With the revolution in Libya, he had to return to his family in Morocco still in a difficult financial situation and in search of a better way of life.

After his experience in Libya, Imad wanted to start his own business in Safi, but he lacked the materials, skills, and financing to make this a reality. While Imad is an artist and expert craftsmen, market competition and lack of proper tools and machinery created additional barriers in getting his business up and running.

In December 2015, Imad joined the EYEM program. Imad participated in the business trainings and developed a professional business plan for his enterprise. In April 2016, his business was selected for a grant of approximately $2,000, which allowed him
to purchase the equipment he needed to launch his business. It would have taken me five years to save enough to buy these materials on my own,” Imad said. “Today, with the help of the EYEM project, I am more confident and my income is increasing.” With his new business, Imad’s income has already increased by an estimated 500 Dhs per month ($50 USD). Through the project, Imad expanded his professional network, and developed managerial and financial management skills. Eager to continue to build his business, Imad is actively engaged in project events and training, and regularly visits the office and coaches for mentoring and support.

Although micro and small enterprises play a central role in Morocco’s economy, youth face a number of challenges in entering the sector, including: the absence of a strong entrepreneurial culture, a lack of access to credit, limited access to networks, and a lack of personalized coaching and support. The Empowering Youth through Entrepreneurship in Morocco (EYEM) project leverages and bridges resources by engaging existing youth associations as drivers of regional economic and enterprise development for youth. The project provides young entrepreneurs in Morocco with the tools and training they need to turn their ideas into viable businesses.

To date, the project has trained 486 youth in microenterprise development, helped over 300 youth to develop professional business plans, and helped 250 businesses launch to date. EYEM is funded by the U.S. Department’s Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) and implemented by the Near East Foundation (NEF) in partnership with the Moroccan Association for the Support and Promotion of Small Businesses (AMAPPE), the Moroccan Social Solidarity Economy Network (REMESS), and alAmana Microfinance.