Startup Hub Caribbean
Facebook has partnered with Parallel18, an accelerator for startup companies that is part of the Puerto Rico Science, Technology and Research Trust, to provide support for 10 startups in the Caribbean. The program is called Facebook’s Startup Hub Caribbean and it is a 12-week program that started in May 2019. This program can tremendously benefit these technology startup companies and the communities that they work in.

The 10 companies selected are from Puerto Rico, Jamaica and the Dominican Republic and the partnership chose all of them because they provide a product or service that focuses on goals that better their communities. These include gender equality and employment opportunities. These companies will be able to grow and expand into other markets under the support of Facebook and Parallel 18 through their free services and mentorships.

Possible Benefits

The unemployment rates in Puerto Rico, Jamaica and the Dominican Republic are currently 7.7 percent, 8 percent and 5 percent. Although these numbers do not appear high, it comes to a total of about 785,000 people that are unemployed. Although providing support to these 10 companies will not completely fix the unemployment rate in these countries, they should be able to grow and provide jobs to their communities with enough support from Facebook and Parallel18.

Agrobeads

Other than creating jobs for various communities, these start-up companies are providing real change and solutions. From Puerto Rico, Agrobeads is one of the 10 companies that Facebook has chosen to help. It provides capsules with water and nutrients to farmers in areas that are susceptible to droughts. According to Agrobeads, the capsules allow for the watering of crops and plants every two weeks instead of daily. Facebook’s support of Agrobeads will allow communities in the Caribbean to have greater access to locally grown foods and a more stable income for farmers.

Edupass

A company focused on providing assistance to those who are underprivileged, Edupass originally formed in 2014. It provides information and assistance to those in the Dominican Republic going through the admission process to university or college. Education is the key to growing a strong workforce and with the support from Facebook’s Startup Hub Caribbean program, Edupass will be able to provide assistance through its admissions experts. These experts will be able to guide students through the application process, help transition students into life at college and provide students with tutoring and the opportunities for internships.

Hacker Hostel

From Jamaica, Hacker Hostel is a company started by Akua Walters that trains and markets Caribbean developers for remote jobs in North American countries. Walters created the company because he saw that talented JavaScript developers were leaving the Caribbean to pursue jobs in developed countries. This was a major problem because the people who were leaving to obtain jobs in developed countries could potentially provide solutions to help with problems in developing nations. Now with the support of Facebook and Parallel18, Hacker Hostel can help better train and prepare software developers to work for North American companies remotely.

Looking Forward

With the creation of Facebook’s Startup Hub Caribbean program, Facebook and Parallel18 are able to provide assistance to young companies that have created solutions for communities around the Caribbean. Although these companies focus and work to benefit their own communities, they could potentially expand to areas outside the Caribbean with the tools, workshops and mentorships from Facebook.

Ian Scott
Photo: Flickr

Mall for Africa Boosts Prosperity
Mall for Africa boosts prosperity by allowing African consumers to purchase items from retailers located in the United States and the United Kingdom. The company’s innovation offers a secure and easy way for African citizens to purchase items online.

The Foundation of Mall for Africa

Chris Folayan, a Nigerian citizen and the founder and CEO of Mall for Africa, opened Mall for Africa in 2016. Foloyan founded this organization in Nigeria because this nation is the most affluent and high-powered country in Africa. Folayan has plans for Mall for Africa to expand in several other African nations as well, such as Ghana and Kenya.

The primary objective of Mall for Africa is for customers to purchase items from the U.S. and the U.K. and to market their own goods effectively in the absence of fraud and theft. Companies transport their products to the United States and United Kingdom infrastructures. Africa then receives the items.

In 2018, Mall for Africa began coordinating with the United States Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) in order to construct facilities in 15 of Africa’s nations. The purpose of this was to reduce shipping costs from international companies and allow for secure payment methods with provincial dollars.

Africans who make purchases online often pay high-cost fees for shipping items. To counter this, Mall for Africa opened storehouses in Portland, Oregon and London to reduce transportation costs. Furthermore, customers are able to purchase items using their own currency through new payment options.

Market Advantages

Mall for Africa boosts prosperity in Africa because of the availability of supplies and materials that generate employment opportunities, improve schooling and new forms of medical treatment. In particular, one entrepreneur purchased a sewing machine which enabled her to begin her own sewing operation. Educational institutions have benefited from Mall for Africa by having the ability to purchase necessary academic materials. These materials include items such as computers and books.

The medical field has benefited from the ability to obtain medical equipment. This gives doctors the ability to effectively pronounce medical conditions and offer treatment options.

Mall for Africa has helped create jobs for Nigerian residents. For instance, more than 60 citizens work full-time. Some expect the number of workers to increase with the implementation of new infrastructures in other African countries.

Since the company first launched, Mall for Africa has boosted prosperity in terms of profit. In fact, it has produced millions of dollars in yearly profits. An expansion of profits should happen due to the implementation of this business in other African nations. In 2019, Nigeria and Kenya are expecting to see a large increase in sales due to the development of various enterprises and the expansion of the working class earning more pay.

eBay’s Collaboration with Mall for Africa

While Africans are able to purchase products overseas as of 2017, Americans now have the ability to purchase original artifacts from Africa through the Mall for Africa application on eBay. Residents in some countries have the ability to sell their artifacts through eBay and market these products to U.S. consumers. Some of these countries include Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana, South Africa and Burundi. The commodities will be available through the Mall for Africa application on eBay, which enables entrepreneurs to expand brand awareness and increase economic prosperity in Africa.

The primary groupings of products are fashion, antiques and jewelry. Mall for Africa will likely include other groupings in the future with the addition of other African countries selling their products.

Mall for Africa’s shipping co-partner, DHL, handles the transportation of all packages. The merchant packages their items then delivers the package to the closest DHL shipping facility. In February 2017, DHL reported a substantial rise in international sales. The company predicts that by 2020 the online market will progress at a rate of 25 percent annually. That is close to double the volume of sales achieved nationally.

While this partnership is expected to expand inventory to the United States, there will also be opportunities for economic advancement for Africans who now have the option of selling their products internationally. Overall, Mall for Africa boosts prosperity for the African continent.

– Diana Dopheide
Photo: Flickr

Living Conditions in Timor-Leste
Timor-Leste or East Timor, a small island between Indonesia and Australia, has struggled with gaining independence since its colonization in the 16th century. The long-standing political turmoil which placated the country throughout much of its history has impacted its economy. The overarching lack of access to raw materials, such as clean water, also depicts the nation’s struggling economy. Below is a list of 10 facts about living conditions in Timor-Leste.

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Timor-Leste

  1. Housing: World Bank estimates from 2016 assumed that Timor-Leste’s economy and its building of national infrastructure would increase steadily over the subsequent three years. It predicted that the growth of the nation would decrease to four percent in 2017, bounce back up to five percent in 2018 and hit six percent in 2019. Unfortunately, the situation concerning Timor-Leste’s housing has remained stagnant. Most people’s houses consist of bamboo, wood and a thatched roof. People that live in urban areas are able to use concrete, which shows a divide in the living conditions in Timor-Leste.
  2. Education: Approximately 20 percent of preschool-aged children in Timor-Leste attend school and nearly 37 percent of young adults living in rural areas are illiterate compared to the six percent in urban areas. Sanitation and access to clean, drinkable water are sorely lacking in schools alone. In 2008, UNICEF began partnering with local agencies to end this issue. It advocated for the establishment of the Basic Law of Education in 2008, the Basic Education Law in 2010 and the National Policy Framework for Preschool Education in 2014 among others.

  3. Agriculture: Agriculture accounts for 80 percent of Timor Leste’s income; its main products include maize, rice and cassava. Very few of the farmers have access to sustainable technologies or practices that are necessary for efficient agricultural production. USAID implemented a plan to address this developmental disparity from 2013 to 2018 through its partnership with Developing Agricultural Communities (DAC). This partnership works with local sectors to teach horticulture technologies and the 349 participating farmers saw great results. Original participants saw their production increase by 183 percent and total revenue by 186 percent, while farmers new to the DAC increased production by 466 to 517 percent.

  4. Access to Food: Due to the heavy reliance on agriculture for survival and income, droughts and shortages of food production can result in high levels of starvation. The 2017 Global Hunger Index classifies Timor-Leste as suffering from high levels of malnutrition. Since 2001, the number of undernourished people has remained stagnant at 300,000. The Sustainable Agriculture Productivity Improvement Project (SAPIP) aims to improve incomes in addition to food and job security to the rural areas of Timor-Leste. It has a six-year-plan agreed upon by the World Bank and government in 2016 and predictions dictate that it should impact 16,500 households and approximately 100,000 people.

  5. Employment: While a majority of the population’s jobs consist of agriculture and farming, there is a huge job market in the science and technology fields. The employment rate is one of the highest that the country has seen in 10 years at 97 percent. This illustrates that while Timor-Leste may be a poor country, it has a lot of untapped potential.

  6. Medicine: Access to doctors and basic medicine has improved over recent years, but many rural communities still seek basic services. New organizations are currently emerging to improve supply chain management of pharmaceutical supplies. There are only 175 doctors that serve the entire population of Timor-Leste. Similar to the United States, citizens have a choice of whether to invest in private or public health care and the government monitors both.

  7. Mosquito-Borne Diseases: Although water surrounds Timor-Leste, the water conditions are poor which make it very easy to contract diseases. The lack of sanitation and regular garbage collection contribute to attracting mosquitoes. Dengue fever and malaria are two of the most common mosquito-borne diseases in Timor-Leste and both have a high mortality rate. Currently, there is no treatment for dengue fever in the area, but there are multiple courses of medical treatment available for malaria.

  8. Water Conditions: Timor-Leste is an island nation, but there is an overall lack of access to clean water that plagues much of the population. Access to clean water and toilets remain a constant issue in Timor-Leste as 353,000 people do not have access to clean water. Subsequently, over half of the population does not have a decent toilet which can lead to major health major issues. In fact, 65 children die each year from dirty water and unsanitary toilets. Women also suffer from managing menstruation, which can greatly inhibit their academic achievements and widen the blatant gender inequality within the country. WaterAid Australia is working tirelessly with the government to make clean water, toilets and good hygiene a part of daily life. The program, which started in 2015, has grown to support WASH delivery service projects in over 180 countries, providing services to approximately 25,000 people.

  9. Plan International: This organization works with various communities across Timor-Leste to provide access to clean water as well as to raise awareness of the importance of handwashing and waste management. Since 2011, it has built 32 village water supply systems which have benefited over 9,000 individuals.

  10. UNFPA Timor-Leste: Maternal health is an issue that has largely slipped through the cracks. In 2010, reports stated that for every 100,000 births in the country, 150 died from complications involving childbirth and pregnancy. Hemorrhaging, anemia, infections/sepsis, labor obstructions and unsafe abortions are the major causes of maternal death. Below are the four pillars that UNFPA works hard to ensure are available to all women:

    1. Modern Contraceptives: Birth control, condoms, etc.

    2. Antenatal care: Routine health screenings of pregnant women without symptoms in order to diagnose diseases or complicating obstetric conditions.

    3. Safe Delivery: A delivery in a medical setting or by a midwife, in which health professionals monitor both the mother and baby.

    4. Emergency Obstetric Care: Basic emergency obstetric and newborn care is critical to reducing maternal and neonatal death.

With the increase of birth rates and access to clean water and food, there is no question that progress is occurring in Timor-Leste. Improvements are slowly diminishing the fatal health issues in the country as these 10 facts about living conditions in Timor-Leste have illustrated.

Joanna Buoniconti
Photo: Flickr

App Helps Job SeekersRecently, a new and innovative app helps job seekers and employers in South Africa. The app makes finding a new employee or job less stressful and a little more fun. A group of employers that were frustrated with the traditional job application process created “Mr. Employ,” an app that helps job seekers find the right position and company that best suits them and their needs. Additionally, Mr. Employ is helping employers find the right people for their company.

An App For Employees

Mr. Employ” is free to use. The app helps job seekers view potential job postings quickly and easily. On the app, there is a dashboard that summarizes all the jobs one matches with. Mr. Employ’s matching criteria is unique and weighted in that it allows job seekers to choose the best jobs out there.

Candidates are able to read a quick summary about which prospective employers match with their wants and qualifications. From there, candidates can see whether they would like to give them a “thumbs-up.” Regardless of whether a person may not like the job posted, no job postings are ever left out of the dashboard. Candidates may just match less with one job over another based on their personality, wants and professional goals.

This app helps job seekers as they can “like” up to five jobs on the app. To create a profile on the app, candidates upload a standardized micro CV, a photograph and a 15 second video.

An App For Employers

On the app, employers can quickly be matched with a growing pool of candidates through its easy and navigable sites.

First, employers must create their job postings and then enter as many job specifications as they would like to that upload. Then, employers choose whether they would like to keep their job posting open to all potential matches, or simply only to those the company specifically likes themselves. After the company’s profile is complete, companies can then see all current dashboards for all potential candidates they matched with. The can also view their match in a percentage regarding the candidate’s qualifications for the specifications posted for the specific jobs.

The 15-second video is very important to employers since it serves as a candidate’s first impression. It gives companies a real sense of whether a candidate will be a right fit for the culture and nature of their business. From a first impression, companies can gather whether they would like to spend the time to get to know the candidate in person or not.

This saves companies time and energy as opposed to the traditional ways where employers would previously try to get to know someone from pieces of paper. This method prevents employers from finding out if a candidate would be a good fit for their company until they meet them face-to-face. The videos on this new app helps job seekers and saves employers time and energy. For employers to partake in the app, they must pay a fee for every job posting that they upload.

Connecting Employers with the Best Candidates

Mr. Employ is designed to help match employers and potential candidates across varying disciplines such as food, retail, sales and entertainment. The app takes into consideration scenarios like transport, gender, language, salary and location. It then assigns an applicability score to candidates. Both the employer and the applicant must “thumbs up” one another to get a match. If that connection is solidified with a hire, that applicant is automatically removed from the app.

Mr. Employ Can Help Unemployment in South Africa

South’s Africa’s unemployment rate increased to 27.6 percent in the first quarter of 2019 from the previous reported number of 27. It is the highest unemployment rate since the third quarter of 2017. Since then, the number of people that were without a job rose from 62,000 to 6.20 million.

With these daunting statistics looming over South Africa, a silver lining is seen within this new app that helps get people jobs. There are about 70 different employers currently searching for people to fulfill numerous jobs across all fields to accompany the approximate 1,200 applicants looking to succeed in those jobs for years to come.

– Jillian Rose
Photo: Flickr

sustainable energy in africaSustainable energy has become one of the most significant challenges and focuses worldwide over the past several decades. As most of the world begins to shift away from traditional biofuels, like coal and gasoline, other sources of energy, such as wind, solar and hydropower, have taken up a more significant share of the world’s energy production. The share of traditional sources has decreased from its peak of 81 percent in 2000 to roughly 65 percent by 2016; meanwhile, the share of wind energy has increased from 0.2 percent in 2000 to closer to 6 percent. Though this is a slow rate of progression, it demonstrates that most of the world is steadily moving further towards renewable energy sources. Sustainable energy in Africa is growing as governments push for more sustainable energy and is helping impoverished communities by increasing employment.

Pushing for Sustainability

Sustainable energy in Africa has seen significant boosts in recent years. One country making particularly significant strides in sustainable energy in Africa is Kenya. With a renewable energy rate of about 73 percent, Kenya is making efforts to retain sustainability. In fact, the largest wind farm in Africa just recently completed construction in Lake Turkana, Kenya. The facility has been under construction since 2014, and with a total of 365 wind turbines, it will mark a significant boost toward sustainable energy both in Kenya and in Africa as a whole.

In fact, Kenya is making an official, concerted effort towards becoming 100 percent green energy powered by 2020. Kenya’s president, Uhuru Kenyatta, has made clear his commitment to expanding renewable energy in Kenya and has gained support from other developed nations to help invest in those projects in Kenya. Investments have led to increases in wind, solar and hydroelectric power projects over the past 10 to 15 years, with many such facilities doubling in number. Reliance on low-emission geothermal energy has also risen sharply, with Kenya ranking ninth in the world in how much power it generates from geothermal energy.

Sustainable Energy and Fighting Poverty

Aside from being environmentally conscious, renewable energy facilities also markedly increase employment. More sustainable energy in Africa can help people out of poverty. Kenya’s pushes towards wind and solar energy have led to the direct employment of 10,000 workers. Not only that, but access to electricity from these projects has also allowed some 65,000 additional people to seek out and obtain jobs elsewhere, which they could not have found without the use of electricity. The number of workers employed in the sustainable energy sector is also expected to increase by 70 percent by 2022-2023. Similarly, in Nigeria, it is expected that sustainable energy will create 52,000 jobs by that same timeframe.

It is evident that sustainable energy in Africa will drive the future of countries like Kenya and Nigeria, and assist with uplifting people both directly via increased employment and indirectly due to expanded access to clean electricity. These industries will increase not only sustainable sources of energy, but will create a sustainable economy and a sustainable population that will not succumb to the negative impacts of unemployment and poverty.

– Jade Follette
Photo: Flickr

asante africa foundationEducation has a massive impact on global poverty rates. According to the Global Partnership for Education, around 171 million people globally would escape poverty if every child left school with the ability to read. However, according to the Brookings Institute, one in four primary school-aged children in East Africa are not receiving an education. Asante Africa Foundation is working to combat this statistic. The non-profit organization aims to provide quality education and job skills to underprivileged children in Kenya and Tanzania through a four-pronged approach.

The Leadership and Entrepreneurial Incubator Program

The sub-Saharan workforce is the least skilled in the world. According to an Inter-University Council of East Africa report from 2014, a mere 49 percent of employers in Kenya believe graduates are prepared to succeed in an entry-level position. Only 39 percent of employers in Tanzania believe graduates are prepared. Asante’s leadership program works with children to build skills that are applicable in the workforce.

The program is a three year curriculum focused on personal development, job readiness and entrepreneurship. Skills like goal setting, financial literacy, leadership development, professional etiquette, industry exploration, project planning, interviewing and resume building are taught to children in the program. The programs five year impact report states that around 60 percent of participants have a leadership position in their communities, more than 70 percent have completed internships and participants have seen a 40 percent increase in salaries as opposed to those not involved in the program.

The Girls’ Advancement Program

According to Human Rights Watch, over 49 million girls in sub-Saharan Africa are out of primary and secondary school. Tanzania was found to have policies harmful to girls’ education. Human Rights Watch discovered that school officials conducted pregnancy tests and expelled pregnant students. The Girls’ Advancement Program teaches female students about sexual maturation, reproductive health, children’s rights and also assists schools in providing safe environments for girls.

The program has greatly benefited female students. Financial literacy is at 95 percent, 85 percent of participants feel they can attend school while menstruating and 70 percent know the importance of HIV awareness and prevention. The program also involves male students and helps them learn about male and female health.

Accelerated Learning in the Classroom Program

The third of the four ways Asante African Foundation is educating impoverished youth in East Africa is by improving educational resources and classroom environments. The Accelerated Learning in the Classroom Program provides intensive teacher training, a learner-centered education model and low cost digital resources to schools. Over 3,000 teachers have been trained to use digital resources in the program. According to Asante, 63 percent of students involved saw increases in English and critical thinking skills.

Scholarship Program

According to UNICEF, direct and indirect costs of schooling are a large barrier to education, especially among girls. Asante provides scholarships for primary, secondary and university level schooling. The primary school scholarship covers food, school materials, uniforms, personal items, boarding and transportation. The secondary and university scholarships cover all the aforementioned items except transportation and are based on academic performance. All of the scholarships cover one year of expenses and are given to rural and poor students of East Africa.

Asante has positively impacted over 500,000 lives through their programs. According to Global Partnership for Education, programs like Asante’s help reduce poverty rates, increase individual earnings, reduce income inequality while promoting economic growth. Asante has received awards from UNESCO, the Jefferson Awards Foundation, the Khan Academy, the African Achievers Awards and the United Nation Girls’ Education Initiative for their effective and beneficial work. The four ways Asante African Foundation is educating impoverished youth in East Africa and strategies like them are essential for the development of that region, and according to the U.N., imperative in ending extreme poverty.

– Zach Brown
Photo: Flickr

Ethiopia's Economy
Ethiopia is the second-most populous country in Africa with an estimated population of 112 million people. Ethiopia also has the fastest growing economy on the continent and is located on the east coast. In 2015, the World Bank reported 23.5 percent of Ethiopia’s population to be living under the national poverty line, however. As of 2019, its GDP is expected to grow between seven and eight percent in the next year in large part due to Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed Ali, who proposed large scale economic reforms in June 2018, two months after assuming office. The following facts about Ethiopia’s Economy give a closer look at the country’s development in recent decades.

7 Facts About Ethiopia’s Economy

  1. Prior to 2018, the state primarily controlled the Ethiopian economy, which was in line with the beliefs of its dominant political coalition, the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF). In 2018, however, Prime Minister Dr. Ali, chairman of the EPRDF, announced that it would allow private investors into some of its monopolies, beginning with select airlines, electricity and telecommunications. Ali and the EPRDF found this shift necessary to spur economic growth according to the government.
  2. Agriculture, textiles, minerals and metal processing are the largest industries in Ethiopia. According to the CIA World Fact Book, the country can trace 40.5 percent of its GDP to the export of coffee, vegetables and sugarcane. Recently, foreign investment in flower, wine and textile industries have become major contributors to the Ethiopian economy as well.
  3. Despite this, Prime Minister Ali has declared his intention to move Ethiopia’s agriculture-based economy into manufacturing, which he announced in a national plan titled Vision 2025. The goal of the plan is to create more than two million jobs and grow the manufacturing industry to 25 percent of Ethiopia’s economy. The idea is for Ethiopia to position itself as a viable contender for low wage jobs to foreign companies in need of labor.
  4. Infrastructural development is also an integral player in the expansion of the Ethiopian economy. Vision 2025 also details the timeline for the creation of 10 new public industrial parks as well as six others to be completed by private developers, bringing at least 60,000 jobs to the area. The sites will receive supplementation in the form of free water, subsidized rent and electricity. To this end, the government has created the Industrial Parks Development Cooperation to oversee the project, and communicate with potential investors. This initiative has been rather controversial to date, however. Strikes erupted at Hawassa Industrial Park, which opened in 2016, due to low wages and unsafe working conditions.
  5. Another significant infrastructural development has been the light rail, the first transportation system of its kind in sub-Saharan Africa. Since its completion, the metro has allowed more than 60,000 people easier access to urban centers where they are more likely to find work or able to attend school for $.027 a ride.
  6. Ethiopia’s potential as an energy provider superpower can not only be seen by its light rail, which relies on hydropower, but also by its large stake in the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, which once completed, will be largest in the continent. It has been under construction since 2011 but will be able to generate 6000MW of electricity, serving not only Ethiopia’s water and hydropower needs but those of 10 other countries as well.
  7. As a rising global economic powerhouse, Ethiopia also has a great interest in expanding its tourism industry. With multi-billion-dollar investments spread across industrial parks and transportation, Prime Minister Ali announced his intentions to no longer African citizens require visas to enter the country. The plan to expand the Bole International Airport so it can serve 22 million people, more than triple the number it accommodates today, accompanied this.

The economic reforms and rapid, large scale infrastructural development happening in Ethiopia today are a promising start to reducing its poverty levels worldwide. Internationally, others recognize Ethiopia’s efforts too; the World Bank pledged $1.2 billion of support in 2018. These seven facts about the Ethiopian economy highlight the government’s rightfully ambitious initiatives— sure to result in a more advanced country supported by the creation of hundreds and thousands of jobs it requires to continue to thrive.

– Jordan Powell
Photo: Flickr

Education Development in Tajikistan

Education development in Tajikistan has increased in recent years through the assistance of UNICEF, the European Training Foundation (ETF) and other organizations. The Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Tajikistan (MoES) introduced key reforms, such as the National Strategy on Education Development 2020, to improve its lacking education system. The reasoning behind efforts in education development in Tajikistan is to attain useful skills so that citizens may gain employment and a steady income. As a result, the declining but high poverty rate of 31.5 percent in Tajikistan can be reduced.

Education in Regions of Rural Poverty

The European Training Foundation found that 600,000 Tajikistanis are labor workers that work in Russia. About 57 percent of these workers are unskilled, poorly paid and work in hazardous conditions.

Since 73 percent of the country lives in rural areas, the main focus of the ETF, UN agencies and nonprofit organizations are regions such as Khatlon and Soghd. Over 70 percent of the poor live in the Khatlon and Soghd Regions. Both regions are emphasized to reduce poverty in Tajikistan and improve the quality of education.

The government’s goal is to double its GDP and reduce poverty in Tajikistan to 20 percent by 2020. To achieve this, the European Union and the ETF have identified three priorities: Health and vocational education, training and rural development.

These priorities have a total cost of around $275 million. The ETF is providing support in the following areas: contributing to international donor cooperation active in professional training, providing thematic expertise to support EU projects, articulating policy dialogue methods and practices and involving key national stakeholders in initiatives.

The World Bank’s Progress

The World Bank financed the $16 million Fourth Global Partnership for Education Fund Grant. The grant was created to improve Tajikistan’s preschool and general education. Additionally, it was meant to strengthen the system’s ability to withstand continued reforms in the education sector.

Marsha Olive, World Bank Country Manager, signed the act in 2013 and said, “This comprehensive project aims to ensure that the children of Tajikistan, especially the most marginalized including girls, ethnic minorities, rural children, and children with disabilities, are afforded the opportunity to achieve their education goals for future development and success.” The fund built off of the success of previous projects that began in 2006 from the Global Partnership for Education Fund.

The grant ended in 2017. It resulted in 18,978 students benefiting from infrastructure improvements against a target of 7,900 students. The grant also trained 5,395 primary teachers. Furthermore, it provided supplementary books to all schools. About 160,000 primary students are enrolled in schools with upgraded learning conditions, against a target of 100,000.

Looking to The Future

With the help of organizations such as the World Bank, UNICEF and other nonprofit organizations, education development in Tajikistan will continue to progress. Consequently, the poverty rate will decline. Although the government’s goal to reduce poverty in Tajikistan is slow, progress is being made through coordinated efforts. Progress in the education sector shows that positive change is occurring in the country.

– Lucas Schmidt
Photo: Flickr

Refugees in Rwanda
As of early 2019, estimates determine that Rwanda is host to approximately 150,000 refugees. To support this number, Rwanda maintains six refugee camps and four transit/reception centers, in addition to supporting refugee integration into urban areas. Rwanda is remarkable for its inclusive approach to refugees, most of whom are from Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The national government, UNHCR, the World Food Programme (WFP), the Government of Japan and other international, national and local organizations are all working to improve opportunities and livelihoods for refugees in Rwanda.

Approximately 79 percent of refugees in Rwanda live in the refugee camps, with the remainder — about 13,000 — living in urban centers. Rwanda gives refugees the right to do business and access health services, insurance, banking and education to promote integration. As of 2017, Rwanda had integrated more than 19,000 refugee students from Burundi into its national school system.

According to UNHCR, enabling the self-reliance of refugees is an essential part of its mission. UNHCR creates and supports initiatives that allow refugees to contribute to the economic development of their host country.

Ali Abdi has lived in Rwanda for 20 years after fleeing Somalia. After applying for a business card, he now runs a small convenience store and lives with his Rwandan wife. Ali described Rwanda as “a peaceful country” where “people do not discriminate.” He is thankful for his ability to be independent.

Supporting Refugee Entrepreneurs

In Kigali, the capital of Rwanda, many refugees like Ali are finding success in entrepreneurship. UNHCR labels Kigali as a “City of Light” for its accepting and supportive attitude toward refugees. The Government of Rwanda is actively working to promote the integration of refugees into the city with targeted assistance.

For refugees aspiring to own their own business, Inkomoko is a local business consulting firm that trains and supports refugees with UNHCR’s support. Beginning in 2016, Inkomoko’s refugee program has worked with 3,300 refugees, resulting in the creation of 2,600 new jobs across the country, a significant boost to the economy. The director of Inkomoko’s refugee program, Lydia Irambona, stated, “Our main goal is to help them increase their revenue, get more customers and understand how to do business here.”

Annick Iriwacu, a Burundian refugee, went to Inkomoko after a referral from her cousin. She has since opened a successful business selling liquid petroleum gas. The business has grown enough for her to now have five employees. She stated, “They gave me the strength and hope to continue, because I was giving up.”

Financial Support for Refugee Camps

While refugees in Rwanda’s refugee camps have fewer opportunities for economic independence and contribution, supporting and protecting them is still crucial. In June 2019, the Government of Japan donated $270,000 to UNHCR Rwanda to cover the needs of 58,552 Burundian refugees in Mahama, the largest refugee camp in the country. This is one of many donations, as the Government of Japan has supported Rwanda for six years and provided a total of approximately $7 million to the UNHCR to support Rwandan refugees.

UNHCR intends to use the 2019 money to maintain and improve refugees’ access to legal assistance and protection against violence, as well as health care services. Refugee camps in Rwanda provide primary health care and send refugees to local health facilities if they require secondary or tertiary care, which can be costly.

Supporting Refugee Farmers

Many refugees living in Rwandan camps want to become more economically independent, however. While the refugee camps provide displaced people with access to basic education and health facilities, many refugees have found that working allows them to take further advantage of what Rwanda can offer them and their families.

The IKEA Foundation, UNHCR, the World Food Programme, the Government of Rwanda and the Food and Agriculture Organization have all provided funding. These organizations are working together to improve the livelihoods of both refugees and local Rwandan farmers.

In the Misizi marshland, 1,427 Rwandans and Congolese refugee farmers are working together for agricultural success. The project is also generating social cohesion, as the Rwandan and refugee farmers are learning to work together and recognize the benefits of cooperation. As of early 2019, these farmers had produced more than 101 tonnes of maize, the profits of which enabled them to feed their families.

Rwanda’s Example

Rwanda intends to continue its inclusive approach to refugees them become successful and independent whether they live in camps or cities. Refugees have found success in Rwanda because its government and international partners are working hard on their behalf.

While there is still more work to do to ensure that refugees in camps have access to work opportunities and that refugees in cities receive support in achieving economic independence, the nation serves as an example of how to successfully help refugees begin new lives and contribute to a country’s economy.

– Sara Olk
Photo: Flickr

Syrian Refugees in GermanyWhat began as a peaceful political uprising in 2011 has become one of the most devastating on-going civil wars of the 21st century. The war has contributed to the biggest refugee crisis since World War II, leaving Syrian refugees in Germany hopeful for improved living conditions. The Syrian Civil War has not only devastated the country and its people but also neighboring nations, creating a regional disruption.

Syria’s fall is a global failure, and the consequences the war has brought with it have been difficult for other countries to manage. The Syrian Civil War forced countries to establish new policies to address the influx of Syrian refugees. Syrians have been escaping the bombings and repression since the outbreak of the war in 2011. However, in 2015, Europe was under more pressure when over one million refugees arrived through dangerous sea travel. Some Member States have closed their borders, and others have implemented new welcoming policies.

Current Living Conditions

Angela Merkel’s Germany welcomed thousands of Syrian refugees with its open door policy. German crowds awaited the arrival of Syrian refugees in Munich from Austria in 2015. However, today this enthusiasm contends with the rise of populism and right wing parties, affecting the living conditions of Syrian refugees in Germany. Amidst refugee settlement, anti-immigration views have become more and more popular among Germans. This forces the government to desperately establish effective integration policies to reduce tensions.

The living conditions of Syrian refugees in Germany are very difficult. They are hospitalized as needed after arriving from extremely life-threatening conditions. Later, the refugees receive camp assignments. Due to the large number of refugee arrivals, Germany had to build emergency camps. These camps lack quality infrastructure and necessary equipment. Some refugees are assigned to shelters such as Tempelhof, where they sleep in a small bed among hundreds of others in one hall.

Due to integration laws that assign family members to different cities, some refugees must endure family separation. Moreover, Germany suspended the family reunification policy between 2016 and 2018 for refugees awaiting their status approval. According to the German government, Germany embassies received 44,736 family reunification applications in 2018, but only granted 1,500 applications.

Paperwork Holds Up the Process

Unfortunately, the living conditions of Syrian refugees in Germany become even more difficult once paper work begins. It could take up to eighteen months to be recognized as an asylum seeker. In most cities, refugees cannot join integration programs if they are not asylum seekers. According to the German law, asylum is a given right to anyone fleeing political persecution. However, the process of being granted refugee status based on the Asylum Act and the Residence Act can be lengthy.

These acts entitle refugees to integration programs, language classes and employment. This is not the reality for refugees who wait years of the approval of their status. Systematic hurdles can stop refugees from learning German, continuing their education or pursuing a job. Therefore, many refugees lose hope and enter black market jobs or seek distressing pathways.

A Brighter Future

Nonetheless, German policies, under the guidance of Merkel, continue to strive for effective integration. Overall refugee unemployment dropped sharply from 50.5 percent to 40.5 percent in mid-2018, based on the Institute for Employment Research. The study also concludes half of the refugee population will be employed by 2020. This is an optimistic advance considering the language barrier in addition to the fact that 80 percent of refugees who arrived in 2015 did not acquire a university degree. This is achievable because the settlement of refugees is improving along with the overall living conditions of Syrian refugees in Germany.

Eventually, refugees will be able to leave crowded shelters and move into apartments with their families. By improving  integration efforts and paperwork processes, Syrian refugees in Germany can gain asylum status and attain their legal rights.

Njoud Mashouka
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