Closed: Call for Solutions – Morocco

CFYE strives to disrupt the employment status quo for Moroccan youth. We are calling for innovative private-sector-led solutions that create, improve, or match decent work for youth in Morocco, focusing on women in particular. Please direct any queries to 

Deadline – 21 February 2022

The Challenge

Morocco, a country of 36.5 million, has proven itself a reliable center for manufacturing, and its geographical location has enabled cost and time efficiency to serve markets across Africa, Europe, and the Middle East.   While there has been a significant push by the government to reduce dependence on the agricultural sector and modernize the economy through years of sustained reforms, the private sector’s growth has not kept pace with the supply of labor.  In recent years, the working age population has been growing by an average of roughly 400,000 annually, with a mere 140,000 new jobs created every year.   

A low-skilled yet growing workforce, low job creation, and a weak entrepreneurial culture have led to sluggish growth and serve as major impediments preventing Morocco from reaching its full economic potential. Nearly half (46%) of Morocco’s population is under the age of 25. Educational institutions and vocational training programs produce mixed outcomes, and new labor market entrants are ill-prepared for both, the technical and soft skills required for the jobs available.     

This phenomenon of low job demand and a mismatch of skills gives rise to alarming unemployment figures; in urban areas youth unemployment is close to 40%. In rural areas, these figures are much lower at 11.3%, where employment for youth is driven mostly by informal jobs in the agricultural sector. Over half of urban women remain unemployed (50.9%). Paradoxically, these figures are higher still for women with graduate degrees, evidencing a lack of support structures and conservative norms vis a vis women employment.    

We observe four key challenges to youth employment in Morocco: low job creation, lack of inclusion, skills mismatch and poor quality of jobs. 

Action is needed to stimulate economic growth, tackle the skills mismatch in the labour market, address the exclusion of women and youth from the labor force and improve the decency of existing jobs. The Challenge Fund for Youth Employment will focus on co-funding initiatives with a short to medium term impact, which consider the structural barriers and test innovative approaches that carry spill-over effects on the macro-economic level. 

Call for Solutions

Based on the scoping study conducted in Morocco in 2021, and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the economy and employment, our Call for Solutions will be aimed at impacting decent jobs through SMEs across the value chain of high growth manufacturing sectors and providing large-scale employment opportunities for Moroccans through digitally enabled jobs and offshoring. 

CFYE will co-invest in innovative private sector-led initiatives that enable businesses to create or improve the employment of youth. All projects should result in decent employment for young people (aged 15 to 35), especially young women. 

CFYE is looking for solutions structured around two non-exclusive windows, explained below. 

We will work through private sector firms in key growth sectors, implementing sustainable solutions for the creation of jobs, embedding decency of work, aspirations of the youth, sensitivity to gender and other inclusion requirements and compliance with the labor laws of Morocco. 

  • Opening: Our Morocco Call for Solutions opened on 14 January 2022. 
  • Webinar: We will host an informational webinar to formally launch the Call for Solutions on 21 January 2022. A recording will be made available on this page. 
  • Deadline: The deadline for submission of Concept Notes is 21 February 2022. 

There will be a second information webinar in the first week of February to provide additional explanations on the specifics of the application process. 


We have identified two application windows with key opportunities for impact on youth employment in Morocco. These windows are described below. Preference will be given to applicants that propose a concrete business plan that fits within the following windows. Please note: commercially and technically viable business plans that meet minimum eligibility criteria yet fall outside these windows will also be considered.

Solutions presented should always show a clear pathway to job creation or improvement.

Co-investment in high-growth SMEs in the value chain of key manufacturing sectors

This window focuses on mobilizing human capital for medium to high-skilled jobs in industrial growth sectors, particularly for SMEs in the supply chain of these fast-growing sectors (f.e. automotive, aeronautics, textiles, pharmaceuticals, and agri-businesses). SMEs in key high-value-added sectors require skilled employees to fuel innovation, growth, and competitiveness in the export market. There is potential for a significant impact on job creation, where sector associations have aggressive job creation targets. CFYE also sees an opportunity for male-dominated sectors to remove entry barriers and enhance opportunities for medium to high-skilled women in these sectors.


  1. Applications aimed at expanding job opportunities in less developed regions will be regarded favourably during evaluation.
  2. Applicants’ use of environmentally sustainable practices, such as renewable energy, and an integrated strategy for social inclusion (for example, working with female-led suppliers or community inclusion) would also be regarded favourably during evaluation.


Examples of project ideas can relate to:

  • Create: Implementing partners’ solutions on creating new jobs in these sectors may focus on, for example, creating work opportunities with a managerial or technical focus to make them more attractive to youth. Financial institutions could consider partnering with SMEs by providing access to finance with direct causality of job creation & incentivizing the hiring of Moroccan youth.
  • Match: TVETs operating in these sectors or other private matching platforms can partner with SMEs to provide the requisite training skills and match youth to suitable opportunities or design apprenticeship opportunities followed by employment. Note: CFYE will not support training-only projects. Training institutions or matching platforms must partner with private sector companies with confirmed demand for jobs.
  • Improve: Solutions in this category will particularly focus on improving the decency or quality of jobs that youth are currently employed in. Project ideas could include: formalising businesses that are currently informal, enabling women to work flexibly, and advancing the decent work agenda for manufacturing employees, focusing on several of the following aspects:


1. Living income/wage, in particular focusing on redressing the gender wage gap by supporting women into jobs in higher-paid sectors and occupations or into senior positions within firms and improving their career prospects in general. This category also includes introducing policies for ensuring workers are compensated for overtime and transportation.

2. Security in the workplace, including physical safety provisions that consider the particular needs of women (e.g., safe transport to and from work, appropriate bathroom facilities) and protection against psychosocial hazards such as sexual harassment or discrimination (e.g., social support systems for workers).

3. Social protection for families, which does not reinforce women’s traditional roles and responsibilities but contributes to the transformation of gender relations in economic and social spheres (e.g., maternity leave, childcare provision, or subsidies for working mothers or single fathers to access childcare).

4. Prospects for personal development and social integration by conducting risk assessments of how a job or a promotion within a job might affect how a worker is perceived and treated in their family and community, and deploying strategies to mitigate against any harm (e.g., community outreach activities to protect women employees against domestic recriminations for working).

Large-scale employment through ICT-enabled jobs & offshoring across service sectors

Digital business development services using technology to create new value in business models, customer experiences, and the internal capabilities that support its core operations, have high potential to impact jobs at scale (f.e. e-commerce, education, health, finance, creative sector). This window covers e-commerce as well as traditional brick-and-mortar players that are transforming their businesses with digital technologies. There is also good potential for providing opportunities for women, as the work often enables remote work and flexibility in timings. Moreover, as per our scoping research, digitally-enabled jobs align strongly with youth aspirations. While direct digital business models are typically deployed in urban and semi-urban areas, this can also be a viable solution to connect with rural markets.


Examples of project ideas can relate to:

  • Create:  Companies can create job opportunities for youth by supplying or using new digital business management tools for B2B service delivery. Another example in this category is companies adopting e-commerce B2C delivery models and providing digital or logistics jobs.
  • Match: Matching platforms can partner with SMEs to provide digital skills training and match youth to opportunities with employers that join the consortium. Note: CFYE will not support training-only projects. Training institutions or matching platforms must partner with private sector companies with confirmed demand for jobs.
  • Improve: Providing working mothers with access to flexible working arrangements, childcare, safe transportation, etc. Equality of opportunity and treatment,for example, applying a gender and inclusion lens to firms’ HR practices, especially at hiring and promotion stages (avoiding highly masculinised language in job descriptions, avoiding unconscious bias in training, establishing clear evaluation criteria, etc.).

Eligibility Criteria

1. Principles: Should adhere to CFYE’s guiding principles & priorities.

2. Exclusion Criteria: the project and organizations involved in delivering the project must pass the FMO exclusion criteria.

3. Operational Criteria:

  • The lead applicant, or at least one of the consortium partners, must have a local operating presence in the country.
  • Selected applicants must be able to begin project activities for the CFYE co-funded initiative by October 2022.

4. Applicant Profile:

  • We actively welcome partnerships or consortium responses to this challenge.
  • We strongly invite applications from private sector companies, as we believe that private sector involvement is the most effective way to develop and test market-based solutions that respond to the challenge of youth employment.
  • Business accelerators and impact investors are also eligible.
  • Non-profit entities are welcome to apply, but if they are the lead applicant, they must apply in consortium with a private-sector partner with confirmed labour demand.
  • We strongly prefer to work with fast-growing small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

5. Job type: Jobs should focus on wage employment or partial self-employment (working with agents).

6. Decency of Jobs: For any job created, matched, or improved, the average monthly income is at least 2830 Moroccan Dirhams, has no more than 48 hours per week of work, and jobs are maintained for at least 6 months.

7. Total Youth Job Targets: The project must meet the minimum eligibility criteria for job targets through a combination of CFYE categories: create, match or improve. The minimum job targets are as follows:

  • Window 1: 250 jobs
  • Window 2: 500 jobs

Higher job targets showing cost-effectiveness will be regarded favourably during evaluation.

8. Women Targets: Of the total youth employment created, matched, or improved, at least 33 % are women. Higher women inclusion targets will be regarded favourably during evaluation.

9. Budget Guidelines: 

  • The minimum contribution of the fund is €100,000. This should be matched by a co-investment that is at least equal to the contribution requested. Sources of co-funding must follow the guidance provided in the Concept Note guidance pack on the website.
  • The contribution requested from CFYE is expected to be within a reasonable range, in comparison with the lead organisation’s average annual turnover in previous years, or the income of the current year in case of a newly-established organisation. If the amount requested is significantly larger, CFYE requires an explanation as to how the organisation/project intends to manage the funds and match it with their own contribution. Guidance around the proof of managing finances is provided in the Business Case guidance.
  • There is no maximum grant amount stipulated, but we will consider whether the budget is realistic and whether the applicant can raise the required co-funding. We will also assess if the cost per job is competitive.
  • The suggested range for cost per job to CFYE (Total CFYE co-investment / total # of jobs) is between 300-800 Euros.
  • Projects with a higher budget than this range may be considered if there is a compelling and feasible developmental additionality (e.g., very high inclusion of women or high inclusion of youth in remotely located areas).
  • Projects that demonstrate value for money and cost-effectiveness will be viewed favourably during evaluation.
  • The company’s in-kind contributions must not exceed 30% of its total co-investment.
  • Capital investment (CapEx) requests from CFYE must not exceed 33% of the total investment.

10. Youth: The jobs created, matched, or improved must be for youth aged 15-35 years. The proposal must demonstrate that the aspirations and requirements of youth have been taken into consideration in the design of the concept.

11. Additionality: Additionality is a central consideration in the review of proposed projects. CFYE co-financing must be additional to the proposed project, i.e., funding is channelled to bring about activities and further investments in youth employment which would not otherwise occur (either at all, in the same timeframe, or to the same scale or quality). The provision of funding through a contract or grant agreement must not substitute or replace an organisation’s core funding, or crowd out other funding sources.

Large enterprises are welcome to apply but must demonstrate strong additionality of CFYE co-funding.

Want to apply?

Download the application brochure below.

Relevant Documentation

Want to know what to expect in our application process? Please have a look at the below documents.

Competitive Process

The Challenge Fund for Youth Employment will apply a competitive process to select the projects that will receive a grant. That means that only those projects that present a clear and convincing pathway to employment and lead to significant and sustainable results in decent employment for youth, with a focus on young women, and can demonstrate high leverage will be selected.

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