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Promoting Economic Opportunity in Western Sahara

J.E. Austin Associates (JAA) implemented the Department of State-funded ‘Promoting Economic Opportunity in Western Sahara’ (PEOWS) Activity from October 2018 to March 31, 2023. The primary objective of the Activity was to boost sustainable, private-sector employment and economic opportunity among youth, women, and disadvantaged groups in Dakhla and Laâyoune, the two biggest cities in Western Sahara targeted by the grant.

The PEOWS Activity first tackled the challenge of lack of data related to economic development, existing assets, constraints to economic growth, information about the market and key value chains, and investment opportunities. JAA performed a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) analysis, including an examination of the impact of COVID-19 on the economy. Opportunities identified in Dakhla and Laâyoune include their exceptional natural potential and climate, the political will to promote sustainable development in agriculture and tourism and the high demand for green energy.

JAA also held stakeholder validation workshops to build trust and gather market information for a mapping tool to promote existing businesses and opportunities in Dakhla and Laâyoune. The mapping exercise produced a shortlist of key sectors (agriculture, tourism, fisheries, renewable energy, and aquaculture) with relevant statistical information and an asset mapping of over 10,000 points of interest. This information was compiled into two promotional websites, DakhlaConnect.com and LaayouneConnect.com, which were translated into French, Arabic, Spanish, and English to further their reach to potential investors and tourists.

In addition, the PEOWS Activity provided several workforce development trainings for women and youth entrepreneurs in digital and social media marketing, networking, e-commerce, sales and financial management, human resources management, export assistance, and launching new products and services. The PEOWS Activity developed an e-commerce platform to showcase the handicrafts of 22 local women artisans; the platform facilitated a crucial linkage with the Dakhla Business School to host a marketing competition for their products. A local entrepreneur and graduate of the Dakhla Business School will run the e-commerce platform and provide coaching and mentorship in digital marketing to the featured women artisans.

Client: Department of State

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