January 31, 2012

A Look Back:
Key Business Projects Announced at US-Maghreb Entrepreneurship Conference in Marrakech

Contact: Vanessa Zuabi
Associate Director, PNB-NAPEO Secretariat, The Aspen Institute
+1 202 957 9030 vanessa.zuabi@aspeninst.org

31 January 2012

Marrakech – Private and public sector leaders from the U.S. and the Maghreb met in Marrakech to announce a number of locally owned and locally driven projects aimed at promoting job creation and entrepreneurship in the Maghreb region. It was facilitated by PNB-NAPEO, an economic cross-border initiative headquartered at the Aspen Institute in Washington, DC with chapters in Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia. Expansion into Mauritania was announced at the conference.

Madeleine K. Albright, Chair of Partners for a New Beginning (PNB), said of the conference that it offers a unique opportunity to address issues of significant importance to North Africa. “North Africa is at an historic juncture and business needs to play a vital role in this region's economic growth. Domestic and foreign investment can be a driving force for increased prosperity and a strong middle class. We are proud to work with our new partners in the region through PNB-NAPEO.”

Walter Isaacson of the Aspen Institute serves as Vice-Chair of PNB alongside Muhtar Kent of Coca-Cola Company. Isaacson said of the conference, “PNB- NAPEO is about taking actions that will change the economic facts on the ground in the Maghreb in order to fulfill the tremendous economic potential of this region.  Over the past year, the changing environment in the Middle East has underscored the urgency of the task to which our PNB-NAPEO local chapters have dedicated themselves.  And our PNB-NAPEO members are not just talking, they are doing.”

Projects announced were generated and driven by PNB-NAPEO’s local advisory board members in the Maghreb. The Aspen Institute PNB-NAPEO Secretariat and Advisory Board will support and facilitate the expansion of these projects through its embrace of the new public-private partnership paradigm that is helping forge new bridges and connections with the Maghreb and United States.

Inspired by the potential for real change in Tunisia, INTEL Corporation and the PNB-NAPEO Tunisia local board has announced the FICRA project, an initiative targeting seniors in college and masters students doing their final projects in business. It will facilitate implementation of student-created business plans and is partnering with INTEL to provide curriculum and entrepreneurship training.

Education for Employment - Maroc led the first of two Training of Trainers programs in Casablanca this past January. Trainers from Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco will return to their respective countries to train young entrepreneurs and jobseekers the employability skills that are in high demand by private sector employers.

Algeria local board member Yacine Rahmoun of the Algeria Startup Initiative and Krimo Salem of If*Then ventures, announced the formation of Casbah Angels, an Algerian angel investor group that will be used to finance early stage start-up companies in Algeria.

PNB-NAPEO used the conference as an opportunity to unveil pnb-napeo.org, an online clearinghouse that offers free knowledge and information from the region’s experts and inspires emerging entrepreneurs to engage with each other. The beta site, discussed at the first US-Maghreb Entrepreneurship Conference in Algiers, was developed by the Atlantic Council and Tobiko Strategies, and introduced at this year’s conference. Organizers kicked-off a 3-month public comment period to collect input from entrepreneurs, investors and other users in the Maghreb and the U.S., noting that the website will launch this spring.

Panelists discussed the key role of the private sector in to create real and meaningful change through the power of cross-border partnerships.

The conference was hosted by PNB-NAPEO Morocco which is chaired by Omar Chaabi, Executive Vice President of Ynna Holding. Leading the sponsorship of the conference is OCP Group, Morocco’s largest business enterprise and primary investor in corporate social responsibility.

Key participants included Madeleine K. Albright, former US Secretary of State & PNB Chair; Walter Isaacson, Vice-Chair of PNB, President & CEO of the Aspen Institute and author of the recently released official biography of Steve Jobs; David Arkless, President of Corporate & Global Affairs for Manpower Group; Henrietta Holsman Fore, Chairman & CEO of Holsman International and former USAID Administrator; Mostafa Terrab, CEO of OCP Group and Abdelmajid Fechkeur, CEO of Redmed Group.

In addition, a number of US Government officials were present including Moroccan Minister of Economy & Finance Nizar Baraka; Tunisia Secretary of State for the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Americas and Asia Hedi Ben Abbes; U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Economic & Business Affairs José W. Fernandez; Special Representative for Global Partnerships in the Office of the U.S. Secretary of State Kris Balderston; and Special Representative for Commercial and Business Affairs in the Office of the U.S. Secretary of State Lorraine Hariton.

The Third US-Maghreb Entrepreneurship Conference will be held in Tunisia in Spring 2013.

For further information regarding the conference visit pnbnapeo.ma. A full list of projects announced at the conference is available here.

Background of PNB-NAPEO:

The North Africa Partnership for Economic Opportunity (PNB-NAPEO) is a network of U.S. and North Africa business leaders, entrepreneurs and civil society leaders with a mission to foster job creation and entrepreneurship, with a focus on youth. Over the next five years this network is committed to positively impacting 100,000 people.

NAPEO is a regional manifestation of Partners for a New Beginning (PNB): a locally-owned and locally driven initiative, with support from a global coalition of prominent business and civil society leaders. PNB fosters partnerships that advance local priorities. The initiative is co-chaired by Madeleine Albright, Walter Isaacson and Muhtar Kent, CEO of the Coca-Cola Company.

For more information regarding PNB and PNB-NAPEO visit http://partnersforanewbeginning.org