By Sarah Alaoui
Al Jazeera, Doha, Qatar.
A short stroll through Casablanca’s Derb Ghallef “informal market”, with its endless stalls of goods and services, offers a panorama of the entrepreneurial spirit and capacity of Morocco’s youth: entrepreneurship, innovation and the Silicon Valley.
These are all seductive terms that have been touted by everyone from private sector leaders to politicians as panaceas to a wide range of problems plaguing the world.
However, in the context of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) where there is a pronounced youth bulge, these words can still hold meaning and potential where four out of five unemployed individuals are inactive and, often, disaffected youth between the ages of 15 and 34.
While the government has been enthusiastic in developing youth entrepreneurship programmes to tackle this issue, the initiatives have had mixed results.
Before completely tossing aside their good intentions, however, the government should be encouraged to focus on supporting and partnering with existing initiatives — notably in civil society and the private sector — that have successfully taken the helm in building a youth culture of entrepreneurship.
If provided with the right ecosystem to thrive, the value of these efforts lies as much in their potential to funnel jobs into the economy as it does in their power to enfranchise youth and strengthen their sense of identity within their communities.