Middle East and North Africa

As a co-partner, ImagineNations has helped launch Silatech (meaning "your connection" in Arabic), an initiative founded and chaired by Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser al-Missned of Qatar to address the critical need for jobs and opportunities for young people in the MENA region. ImagineNations has been closely involved with leaders from across the region regarding potential approaches and has helped the Silatech organizing and leadership teams to shape the strategic direction and mission of Silatech. In January 2008, Her Highness Sheikha Moza, at the United Nations' Alliance of Civilizations meeting in Madrid, announced a private, personal commitment on behalf of herself and His Highness the Emir of Qatar. The initiative, launched in June 2008, formally established Silatech. Numerous other co-investors have since come to the table with various commitments.

Six diverse countries have been selected as a series of first pilots in the region, including Morocco, Bahrain, Qatar, Tunisia and Yemen. In-depth mapping has been conducted in each of these countries in partnership with the ILO and local partners. It is expected that Silatech will roll out its work to the 22 countries across the region over the next five years.

As with the other countries in which ImagineNations is working, this MENA initiative mobilizes interest, investment and action on behalf of the region's young people. In this case, it supports a comprehensive strategy that addresses several streams of work over time, including:

  • Influencing key policies that serve as barriers to youth entrepreneurship and the SME sector
  • Influencing cultural mindsets through the media and education
  • Creating job counseling, linkages and placements through both "place-based" and "technology-based" state-of-the-art-contact centers,
  • Unlocking access to a wide range of "youth friendly" financial products and services, including but not limited to capital (equity, loans and grants) and business development services for aspiring entrepreneurs in the micro, small and medium-size enterprise sector

Silatech is the initiative through which ImagineNations is ensuring a comprehensive vision and mission for youth investemnt are carried out in the MENA region.

ImagineNations played a key role in designing and planning the first of Silatech's global youth investment summits, held June 1-2, 2008, in Doha and co-hosted by Silatech and the Financial Times. The summit, "Young People and Employment in the Arab World," created an important platform for raising awareness of Silatech and building a network of international and regional leaders interested in investing in job creation and sustainable development for the young people in the Arab World.

The Summit brought together more than 200 leaders from the private, public and civil society sectors to promote innovative large-scale job creation, entrepreneurship and access to capital and markets. Building on the success of the 2008 summit, the leadership team of Silatech will convene a second annual gathering of global leaders in June 2009.


ImagineNations is coordinating its previous work in Morocco with Silatech's larger strategy. Based on the many interviews ImagineNations has conducted, it has identified a core group of leaders and visionaries from among Morocco's most well-known public and financial sector institutions, who have agreed to come together to engage in strategy development. This core group has come together as an Investment Strategy Alliance that works closely with ImagineNations toward the overall development, funding and implementation of a national investment strategy in Morocco.

Building on the operational discussions to date, the Alliance is initiating the youth entrepreneurship landscape of Moroccan youth and businesses to help foster a stronger entrepreneurial spirit and effective employment strategies.