The Office of Vocational Training and Labour Promotion (OFPPT) hosted Wednesday the first edition of “the Entrepreneurship Caravan – Start-up South” in the southern city of Laayoune which witnessed a huge success in a region that has been plagued by the lack of such initiatives for the youth to develop their skills and talents.
Over 15 OFPPT establishments from the three regions of southern Morocco took part in the competition which kickstarted in January.
Only 30 projects made it to the final which saw a team of four students from the Specialized Institute of Applied Technology of Laayoune (ISTA – Laayoune) crowned for their “electricity and continuity detector” invention to the cheers of the audience at the Congress Palace.
Hatim El Khiyate, a member of the winning team, said he was delighted with the win.
“Our project is both economic and environmentally friendly. It took the four of us two months to conceive it with the support of our supervisor and professor Hamid Belghandour,” said Khiyate.
The second prize was awarded to the "Smart House" project presented by ISTA - Guelmim, while the third prize was won by "the photovoltaic system/water pumping" from ISTA - Dakhla.
ISTA – Smara won the public prize of its "Pasta" project.
Secretary of State for Vocational Training Mohamed El Gherrass hailed the initiative, a first in the southern region.
“This exceptional initiative is part of Morocco’s promotion of the overall policies that highlight the interest in the youth in order to boost regionalisation,” said Gherrass.
“The aim of the caravan is to discover and support young entrepreneurs, especially those whose projects meet Morocco’s development in some sectors such as renewable energy,” he added.
Governor of Laayoune-Sakia-El-Hamra Yahdih Bouchaab said that the projects exhibited by the candidates from the three regions “give us some contentment on the path taken by these young entrepreneurs.”
“All of this (projects) emphasises the success of King Mohammed VI’s strategy mentioned in his speeches,” said Bouchaab.
OFPPT Secretary General Loubna Tricha said that the initiative was part of the Office’s contribution to boost the regional development through encouraging the spirit of entrepreneurship among the youth in line with the King’s directives.
Abdellatif Zakhbat, Secretary General of the Banque Populaire Foundation which was the main sponsor of the event, said that this experience was an important challenge in accompanying the youth.
“We are committed to supporting all the initiatives that seek to encourage the youth to develop the spirit of innovation in order to boost the regional economic development,” said Zakhbat.
The caravan motivated thousands of students and graduates to showcase their talents in a region that has been dormant and where unemployment is high among the youth.
Belghandour, professor at ISTA - Laayoune said the caravan will help competitors integrate the job market.
“We needed such initiative in the region which has revived a spirit of competition among the youth,” said Belghandour.
El Hassan Baiga, OFPPT regional entrepreneurship manager and the author of the initiative, said that the competition was first going to be held only between Laayoune institutes at first.
“We decided to include the three southern regions in order to motivate all the students to take part in the competition and create an atmosphere of innovation and creativity among them,” said Baiga.
Sami Essoulh Tayeb, OFPPT regional director of the southern provinces, stressed that more than five thousand trainees graduate each year in with basic training in the three southern regions and another 1000 trainees with qualifying training besides the trainees who hold diplomas.
Tayeb said that the OFPPT developed new specialisations “that are in line with the development model spearheaded by the King” such as the renewable energy sector and the food industry.
The organisers also honoured some OFPPT trainers for their hard work at the regional level.