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Empowering youth and women’s entrepreneurship in the Euro-Mediterranean region  

​Libyan fashion company wins Young Local Entrepreneurship in the Mediterranean
A Libyan fashion and textile company was awarded the Young Local Entrepreneurship in the Mediterranean Award 2019 on 26 February. The award was handed over at the plenary session of the Euro-Mediterranean Regional and Local Assembly (ARLEM) held in the Spanish city of Seville, where 100 local and regional leaders gathered to discuss how to foster youth entrepreneurship, empower women, improve governance, strengthen city-to-city cooperation and manage migration.

The award was given to Zimni Jdeed, a fashion and textile company based in Tripoli that is re-fashioning traditional clothing with great success. The young entrepreneur Najway Altahir Mohammed Shukri and her brother Ali launched the company three years ago. They now employ six seamstresses, offering a decent working environment for women. The first edition of the ARLEM award received 24 applications from nine countries.

Praising the winner, Karl-Heinz Lambertz, President of the European Committee of the Regions, said: “There is a desire throughout the Mediterranean to enhance cooperation and unlock the enormous potential of the region. By empowering all young people regardless of gender, we can stir entrepreneurship and create new jobs. Through decentralised cooperation we are deepening integration of the region, overcoming challenges that transcend borders, such as migration and social exclusion, and delivering sustainable development."

Lahcen Amrouch, Mayor of Argana in Morocco and representative of ARLEM's co-President Mohammed Boudra at the meeting, stressed: “Youth entrepreneurship is a priority for ARLEM. That is why we have launched the ARLEM Award to promote young entrepreneurship and give visibility to those that are not discouraged by the difficulties of starting a new business. We urge national governments to simplify business legislation, reduce the administrative and tax burden, and create business incubators and micro-credit schemes to boost young entrepreneurship."

Nasser Kamel, Secretary General of the Union for the Mediterranean, said: “The work of the Euro-Mediterranean Local and Regional Assembly is extraordinarily important. The Assembly represents the people of the Euro-Mediterranean region, more than 800 million citizens who need our engagement and commitment to the promotion of dialogue and cooperation. As the territorial dimension of the Union for the Mediterranean, ARLEM must contribute to defining the priorities and enhancing the visibility of the work and activities we undertake, bringing the Euro-Mediterranean partnership closer to the interests and expectations of its citizens."

The delegation of 100 participants from 19 countries members visited La Cartuja in Seville, the 1992 Universal Exposition site now reconverted into a business park and incubator centre that gathers 450 companies and 17,000 employees. The Mayor of Seville, Juan Espadas (ES/PES), said: “The city council has deployed new competencies to tackle unemployment, focusing on youth training and improving their employability. Seville has great human capital. Entrepreneurship is in our city's DNA. That is why I am particularly gratified that the first ceremony of the ARLEM award to young entrepreneurs is taking place in our city."

During the ARLEM meeting, a report on 'Youth entrepreneurship in the Mediterranean' was adopted that calls for the strengthening of programmes that support youth entrepreneurship, such as MedUP!, Med4jobs and Next Society, in order to promote economic development on the southern shores of the Mediterranean. The EU, the report says, should initiate schemes to give young entrepreneurs from North Africa and the Middle East the opportunity to receive training from experienced entrepreneurs in one of the 28 EU Member States.

Rapporteur Olgierd Geblewicz (PL/EPP), President of Westpomerania Region, said: “We need to facilitate youngentrepreneurship to revitalise local communities, create new jobs, boost economic growth and improve social welfare. We call on the EU, the UN and national governments across the Euro-Mediterranean region to create vocational programmes and develop micro-credit schemes for young entrepreneurs. Local and regional authorities should be fully involved in market labour and employment policies as they are best placed to implement programmes that fit the needs of their communities."  

A report on 'Governance and transparency in the Mediterranean', led by Lütfü Savas, Mayor of Hatay in Turkey, was also adopted. It calls for greater decentralisation in the region, as a way to address the current distrust of public authorities. By empowering local governments, citizens can more actively participate in decision-making. The ARLEM defends higher budgets for local governments and tax collection capacities to invest in new projects in priority areas.

Co-organised by the Conference of Peripheral and Maritime Regions (CPMR) and the Association of European Border Regions (AEBR), a workshop on migration was also held focusing on the role of local and regional authorities in receiving and integrating migrants.

Discussions on the Nicosia initiative, a decentralised cooperation programme between EU and Libyan Mayors, also took place held. Following the successful exchange programmes in sustainable fishing with the region of Friuli Venezia Giulia and water management with Murcia, the ARLEM aims to extend the Nicosia initiative with more funds and exchange programmes, and has welcomed new partners such as the Galicia regional government and the city of Seville.

Note to editors: 

The European Committee of the Regions created ARLEM in 2010 to allow elected representatives of the three shores of the Mediterranean Sea to be represented before the EU and the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) and to maintain a political dialogue and promote interregional cooperation. ARLEM is composed of 80 members and two observers from the EU and its Mediterranean partner countries. ARLEM is co-chaired by the president of the CoR, Karl-Heinz Lambertz and Mohamed Boudra, mayor of the Moroccan city of Al Hoceima and president of the Moroccan Association of Presidents of the Communal Councils (AMPCC).The UfM was founded in 2008. The UfM is an intergovernmental organization based in Barcelona that brings together 43 countries, including the 28 countries of the EU.

ARLEM – Seville Photo album is available here.
What the ARLEM Award is: watch the video animation here.
Watch the video presentation of the winner of the ARLEM award 2019.

David Crous |  | +32 (0)470 88 10 37


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