State Department officials participate in “Dakha-Market” launch, supporting local artisans

A delegation from the U.S. Department of State traveled to Dakhla this week to meet with beneficiaries of economic development programs supported by U.S. Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) – including the DakhlaConnect digital platform and a separate workforce skills training program for unemployed youth.   

Ariel Vaagen and Colin O’Connor, U.S. officials who work on MEPI programming in Washington, DC, on Wednesday participated in a ceremony to launch “Dakhla-Market,” an e-commerce platform that allows local artisans in the Dakhla region to showcase their goods and services online.   

Dakhla-Market is an outgrowth of the digital platform, which started in January 2021, enabling local businesses to connect to potential business partners, including investors from abroad. The platform also provides potential investors, vendors, suppliers, and entrepreneurs with critical information about the Dakhla-Oued Eddahab region, allowing them to search for local businesses by sector.  

The platform is a result of strong partnerships between MEPI, the Regional Investment Center of Dakhla, the Wilaya, and J.E. Austin Associates (a U.S.-based organization.)   

“We are excited to partner with the regional investment center and local officials in support of artisans and young entrepreneurs,” Ms. Vaagen said. “This will contribute to regional economic growth and create additional opportunities for the young people.”   

“The e-commerce platform is a great new asset, allowing artisans to showcase and sell their goods and services online. It is a great addition to the already tremendous success of the digital platform which continues to promote the economic and investment potential of the Dakhla region,” said Mounir Houari, director of the CRI of Dakhla Oued Eddahab.   

During their visit to Dakhla, the U.S. officials also attended soft skills workshops, provided to unemployed youth in Dakhlathrough the “Skills for Success” program, which is being implemented by Amideast, under a $1.35 million grant from MEPI.  The program is expected to benefit 900 young people, with a focus on women and individuals with disabilities.  

The 220-hour Skills for Success program aims to expand participants’ knowledge about job paths and employment resources, helping them develop critical skills and increasing their ability to find job opportunities. The program started in February 2022, and integrates five core areas linked to personal and professional development: English language proficiency, computer/ICT skills, workplace/professional skills, community outreach and transition to work.