Hamid Ben Elafdil: “If we give wings to our younger folks, the nation will take off”

The former Moroccan Student Foundation (FME), the Jadara Foundation, which has been working for “social advancement” in Morocco for 20 years, has recently expanded its position by activating new levers. Hamid Ben Elafdil, president of the foundation, is returning to the new programs of the foundation, which aims to reach 10,000 beneficiaries by 2030.

Challenge: Can you tell us about the purpose of the foundation and its mission?

Mr Hamid Ben Elafdil: The Jadara Foundation is a non-profit association that was founded in 2001. We realized very quickly that our mission is in fact to contribute to the “social growth” in our country. Over the last 20 years, we have used the only leverage for social advancement, which is higher education excellence for great young people. We identify young girls and young boys who obtain a high school diploma with very good results, but come from extremely precarious social conditions. The latter have scholarships and also benefit from non-financial support until their professional integration, to enable them to pursue the higher education they deserve and want, on the sole condition that it will be a university degree.

Challenge: Why “social growth” and what is its significance ?

Mr Hamid Ben Elafdil: Social rise is first and foremost at the moral level the principle of justice. It is not ethically or morally normal that a child of a worker or a farmer cannot have a chance to be a doctor, for example. There is an economic reason. Our country is very weak in the World Economic Forum’s social mobility index, which shows that social mobility is a factor in wealth creation. By improving this index, we increase GDP growth. Finally, there is a political reason. Today, there is a kind of generalized pessimism among our young people that leads them to a total disinterest in everything political, a disinterest in the country and a desire to seek hope elsewhere, with everything that it generates. such as brain drain and youth demobilization in general.

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That is why the Jadara Foundation has stood up to this mission of social advancement, first through action, by opening up opportunities for social advancement to more young people, but also through advocacy. Today, we can do advocacy because we have the credibility of our 20 years of experience and our 2,150 beneficiaries.

challenge: What does non-financial support for program beneficiaries consist of?

Mr Hamid Ben Elafdil: A part of the support component is a language platform, so that these young people can improve their language level with the knowledge that the first discriminatory factor of social growth in our country is the command of a foreign language. The second thing, we also organize workshops for the development of soft skills, whether in the field of interpersonal communication, public speaking, job interviews …

We also have coaching that can be done individually or collectively, we have mentoring; each scholarship holder of the foundation benefits from a mentor who is a manager, manager of a company or pursues a liberal profession in the scholarship holder ‘s field of study. These mentors provide them with knowledge of the profession, networks, course selection advice and practical advice.

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When you look at the results, in 20 years we have had a failure rate of only 1.5%, out of about 2,150 supported fellows, which means that this support actually allows young people to go further.

Challenge: You have recently expanded your position to reach 10,000 beneficiaries by 2030 by activating additional levers of social advancement. Can you tell us more?

Mr Hamid Ben Elafdil: In fact, we have decided to activate additional levers of social advancement. In Morocco, around 1.6 million young people between the ages of 15 and 25 who are not at school or at work are commonly known as NEETs (not in education, employment or training). This number is simply alarming. It is a resource that will be lost if it is not deployed. The famous demographic dividend threatens to turn into a demographic curse. The idea was to ask how specifically to help this goal get started using our experience.

We have therefore launched the YOUTH WINGS YOUTH program, which is aimed at NEETs to train them with a partner in the coding professions. There is a high global demand in this area. Today, we are talking about a global deficit of 5 million people in coding. This program includes trainings, soft skills workshops, languages, mentoring, networking and, of course, a scholarship during the training period. The aim is for them to be able to work in coding after training, whether working for companies in Morocco or working for companies abroad or remotely from Morocco for a company abroad.

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We have launched a pilot operation with financing from the investment fund and we hope that Moroccan companies from various sectors of activity may also be interested in financing this type of program. This is the new lever we baptized “Second chance with Jadara.”

There is also a program called “Go on with Jadara.” It focuses on young people who have already started studying at university and who, for example, lost one of their parents during COVID. We can help them move on in the studio so they don’t have to leave. This program is also aimed at entrepreneurs. Our goal is not to accompany young people to discover what entrepreneurship is, but to accompany them to become real entrepreneurs. These are entrepreneurs who already have entrepreneurial skills, but need leverage to move up the social ladder. With this logic, we responded to the “Forsa” call for bids and chose Béni Mellal to implement this approach to identify real entrepreneurs and help them move on.

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We have also set up another program called “Ziariar with Jadara”. It is aimed at other types of talents with sports or artistic intelligence, who need to be given the opportunity to reach their full potential and rise socially with their talent.

Challenge: And what about the ecosystem that accompanies you in your mission of social ascension?

Mr Hamid Ben Elafdil: Everything we do and achieve would not be possible without the support, support and commitment of the whole ecosystem in the service of the social growth that constitutes societies of all sizes and from all sectors. About a hundred companies support us in this matter. There are also individual donors. We also have educational partners, which are universities and private colleges, training organizations in the field of coding, … There are also volunteers who are either mentors, workshop leaders or simply accompany young people in specific subjects. We currently have about 500 volunteers who are mobilized around the foundation. All the components of this unified and sustainable ecosystem are convinced that if we give wings to our young people, the country will run.

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