Blended Finance Structuring Study

Since 1987, the Near East Foundation (NEF) has worked with communities across Morocco to help build more sustainable, prosperous, and inclusive communities through initiatives in youth empowerment, rural livelihoods, microenterprise development, agriculture, civic engagement, and natural resource management. NEF has gained strong technical expertise to address local challenges and developed a keen awareness of the critical issues facing Morocco today.

In April 2022, NEF and its local partner, Emerging Business Factory (EBF), established the Youth Climate Innovation Incubator (YCII) in Marrakech. The initiative addressed two of Morocco’s most pressing issues – climate change and youth unemployment. The YCII pilot sought to identify and nurture home-grown, innovative, youth-led business solutions to climate change impacts, with an initial emphasis on water and climate-smart agriculture. It is among the first in Morocco to provide competitively selected young entrepreneurs focused on climate resilience with access to full-cycle support to test and launch innovative business solutions to climate change challenges. It offered business training and planning, technical expertise, one-on-one mentoring, networks, start-up funding, and acceleration support to test and launch business solutions. The pilot supported 32 start-ups in the Marrakech-Safi region, 10 of which were selected for acceleration support and small grant financing. See YCII Business and Partners annexed for more details.

Since October 2023, NEF and EBF launched Growing YCII to improve and scale the YCII program. Specifically, Growing YCII will support 100 businesses in 4 regions (Marrakech-Safi, Draa Tafilalet, Beni Mellal and Souss Massa). To further support sustainability and scaling of the program-supported start-ups, NEF aims to develop a blended finance mechanism that will engage the climate innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem and serve as a catalyst among stakeholders.

The mechanism should provide both financial and non-financial support to start-ups in their various stages of development, from the initial seed funding to larger-scale operational investments; as well as rural cooperatives that have successfully accessed markets. The mechanism should bring together government, philanthropic and private sector funding to support entrepreneurs at different stages of development, through grants, loans, and equity investment as appropriate.

YCII Blended Finance Mechanism Structuring Study

To lay a foundation for the investment facility, NEF is looking for an impact investment advisory consultant or firm to conduct an in-depth structuring study.

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