Yasmina Filali

Fondation Orient Occident

Foundation Orient Occident provides job training to underprivileged Moroccans, sub-Saharan migrants and refugees. It supports migrants’ voluntary return to their home countries and facilitates integration of migrants and refugees into Moroccan society.
Focus: Human rights, Migration, Eco-Development for Integration
Model: Hybrid non-profit
Number of Direct Beneficiaries: 8000 / year
Annual Budget: € 1.5 million (2014)
Percentage Earned Revenue: 25% (2014)                                                                                                          
The Social Problem
Morocco, alongside most other countries in the MENA region, is facing enormous challenges with both high unemployment rates as well as migration both in and from the country. An average of 70% of the region’s population is below the age of 29 and 50% of those are unemployed; the problem is not necessarily the lack of jobs but rather the lack of employable skills and professional education particularly amongst underprivileged populations. Also, in recent years, a steady influx of young refugees and migrants who have fled from areas of instability and conflict joined young Moroccans in the struggle to find work and integrate into Moroccan Societies.
Innovation and Activities
The defence of human rights is a priority for the Foundation, and for this reason it is strongly engaged for the cause of migrants and refugees. Fondation Orient Occident is committed to the issues of migration and unemployment, and it aims at bridging the gap between the multiple cultures and realities existing across the shores of the Mediterranean. It does this by promoting integration, providing social and psychosocial support, training programmes as well as a wide range of intercultural activities with the intention to open up a mutual dialogue; in fact Fondation Orient Occident is engaged to concurrently promote integration at a dual level: on the one hand, the integration of underprivileged Moroccans, Sub-Saharan migrants and refugees within Moroccan society, on the other it works to improve and facilitate migrants’ voluntary return to their own countries.
In order to address the lack of professional skills for the long-term unemployed in Morocco, the Fondation Orient Occident created vocational training-centers in different underprivileged districts serving more than 8,000 beneficiaries per year. Beneficiaries are selected following an assessment of their living situation, their needs, and their motivation. In its six centers, Fondation Orient Occident provides young people with vocational training in sectors such as hospitality and IT.
Considering the increasing flow of migrants and refugees, the Fondation Orient Occident, that initially only worked with young, underprivileged Moroccans, expanded its humanitarian programming to embrace both non-Moroccan and Moroccan citizens, migrants and refugees. Today the Fondation Orient Occident supports more than 1000 refugees in its programs, 50% of which are from Syria. The remaining 50% come from Sub-Saharan Africa and Iraq fleeing instability and conflict. More than 60% of the Fondation Orient Occident’s beneficiaries are under the age of 29 and 60% of them are female.
For female refugees that have become victim of sexual violence, the Fondation Orient Occident runs ‘safe apartments’ in collaboration with UNHCR and offers psychosocial support. The Fondation Orient Occident has played an important role in Morocco’s change of policy towards migrants and refugees, helping to secure a legislative victory in 2014 enabling refugees to legally work in the country rather than be forced into informal employment or onward migration.
The Entrepreneur
Before creating the Fondation Orient Occident, Yasmina Filali was previously the director of Communications at Drouot in Paris and the Head of Project for the Union of Mediterranean Universities in Rome. She has a PHD in Art History from La Sorbonne in Paris. Yasmina is engaged in the work as consultant for RSE enterprises; furthermore Yasmina extended the Foundation’s advocacy work and shared her expertise in working with refugees and migrants in light of the current crisis. In 2008, the Foundation Orient-Occident was awarded the Human Rights Prize by the French Republic.