Growing a skilled and empowered youth citizenry in Morocco

We enable youth in detention centers to grow nurseries, certify organic and monitor carbon offsets. Partner so that green jobs await them.

Photo of Yossef Ben-Meir
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I confirm that I am fully aware of the eligibility criteria, and based on its description, I am eligible to apply to the CSV Prize 2017.

  • Yes, I'm eligible

Preferred language

  • English

Organization name

High Atlas Foundation

Year founded


Initiative stage

  • Established (the solution has passed the previous stages and demonstrated success)

Annual budget in 2017 (USD)

  • $500k - $1m

Number of beneficiaries impacted so far

  • 50 - 100

Organization type

  • Nonprofit, NGO, or citizen sector

Secondary Focus Area

  • Water
  • Nutrition

Headquarters location: Country

  • Morocco

Headquarters location: City


Location(s) of impact

Oujda and Fes


Facebook URL

Twitter URL


Problem: What problem is this initiative trying to address?

The youth of the Oujda Child Protection Center (OCPC) represent a microcosm of the potential for growth and opportunity and sadly, too, for the opposite not only in the Rif and in Morocco, but far beyond. The MENA region is home to the highest rate of youth unemployment in the world, but for the eighty young men, aged 12 to 18, who find themselves at OCPC, a new partnership with HAF means growth and opportunity could be just on the horizon. Most interventions target universities, ill-serving the less educated majority.

Solution Summary: What is the proposed solution? What do you see as its most promising aspects for creating shared value?

The teenage boys find themselves at OCPC for a multitude of reasons, but share two things in common. “The children’s presence in protection centers is court-ordered, as they have committed a felony punishable by law,” OCPC Director M. Ali Baidou explains. “However, they all desire to be reintegrated with the rest of the world, with access to work to help themselves and their families.” To ensure that the youth of the center do not fall into harmful behavior patterns upon release, they require opportunities at OCPC to make time spent there, a more positive experience. Developing organic agriculture value chains, and experientially training youth, stimulates local economy, improves youths’ workforce readiness and promotes sound environmental practices. Center residents gain knowledge and skills associated with organic agriculture, cooperative management and facilitating participatory democratic planning. From our two successful pilots, we can now expand to all 8 centers in Morocco.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Specify both the social and the environmental impact of your work

HAF and partners have planted over 2.3 million trees since 2003. Partnering with Ecosia, HAF will plant 1.3 million trees by the end of 2018. When all these trees arrive at full maturity, over 20,000 households’ lives and income will be impacted (about 180,000 people). In the Taroudant Province, we achieved with farmers through Ecocert organic certification of walnuts and almonds, opening international organic markets to over 500 households (4,500 people). Over 16 tonnes of organic nuts, and 970 liters of walnut oil were processed and sold domestically and internationally. HAF brought clean drinking water to 19 villages (4,000 people) and 13 schools (1,200 students), significantly decreasing cholera and diarrhea prevalence, and increasing school retention, especially for girls. Over 4,000 individuals have received capacity building and training, changing individuals’ knowledge, self-belief and confidence. HAF has special consultative status with the U.N. Economic and Social Council.

Financial sustainability plan: How is this initiative financially supported? How will you ensure its financial sustainability long-term?

The High Atlas Foundation has built partnerships and systems to monitor and sell carbon credits not only generated by the more than one million organic fruit trees we planted since 2014, but also from the nation’s forests. Based on our signed agreement with the High Commission of Waters and Forests, the new revenue generated in this way can finance more nurseries with youth, at schools and with communities in the kingdom and in the Continent. Thus, for example, the purchase of these credits from HAF by Moroccan and international corporations will reduce their carbon footprints while also directly financing Moroccan human development and South-South actions. To sell these credits, HAF is planning auctions in Morocco and the U.S., and is appealing to its extensive multi-sectoral network.

Unique value proposition: What makes your initiative innovative? How does your project differ from other organizations working in the same field?

HAF operates like a “nursery” for social transformation, with a unique and innovative value chain model which builds self-sustainability for communities. However, a basis for the sustainable prosperity we create is training communities in a participatory empowerment approach to human development. We offer disenfranchised youth not only the technical skills for employment in an expanding area of the agricultural economy, but also facilitation skills in participatory democratic decision-making.

Founding story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that sparked the beginning of this initiative.

This project represents multiple streams of needs and opportunities coming together. First came the realization that achieving transformational change for rural communities who experience most of the poverty in the country requires vastly expanding a highly viable revenue source; and that is organic agriculture. Second, Centers for the Protection of Children have received attention in Morocco for their failure to rehabilitate and create opportunities for our youth who are in great need, and who are made vulnerable to divisive ideologies. Finally, the skills to grow nurseries, certify organic, build cooperatives, assist community planning and monitor carbon offsets are too scarce in the nation to achieve even remotely these essential activities at national scale. Therefore, let's enable marginalized youth to experience this empowering initiative and gain employment, for them and everyone.

Where did you hear about the Nestlé Creating Shared Value Prize?

  • Ashoka page or contact
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Attachments (3)

The High Atlas Foundation Grows Trees - 29 Oct 2017.pdf

The High Atlas Foundation produces trees. And in the process, it helps people at every step along the way. From schools and youth support centers where High Atlas tree nurseries teach disadvantaged children the healing aspects of farming while they help to grow transplants, to destination family farms where a historically nomadic population gets a chance at a more settled and prosperous life.

University World News - 2016.pdf

This published article by HAF staff members discusses pressures Moroccan youth experience that may result into their sympathizing with extremist religious ideologies.

Between despondency and hope in Morocco.pdf

This article by a HAF staff member presents the first pilot project located in the city Oujda, while it was still in its planning phase. Here we sought to share with the public alternative pathways of how youth who are detained due to convictions of crimes can emerge empowered, with capacities to gain long-term green employment and highly productive members of society.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Aimable Nyandwi

Hello Yossef, your work is an unprecedented opportunity to many people. please keep it up!

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