New opportunities in IndiaZomato is a food technology startup out of India. The startup’s stock just hit the National Stock Exchange of India (NSE) and is already wildly successful. The company’s success and growth open opportunities in the food delivery industry, which has the major selling point of schedule self-determination. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is estimated that an additional 75 million people in India have been plunged into poverty. Zomato provides new opportunities in India and has the potential to stir up the economy and create jobs for those living in poverty.

Zomato as a Poverty Fighting Agent

Founded in 2010, Zomato challenges poverty in India from multiple angles. The platform connects potential customers with restaurants they might be interested in, and it also allows customers to review restaurants, reserve tables and order delivery through third-party services. Third-party food delivery serves as a new job market in India and is the most crucial aspect in terms of economic growth. Companies like DoorDash, Uber Eats and Seamless entice potential drivers with the appeal of creating their own schedule. They also allow a variety of delivery methods, from cars to bicycles. This can be a great aid in lifting people out of poverty because of the inherently accessible and flexible job opportunities.

Effect on Job Market

Forbes cited what it deemed a “well-founded argument” when it said, “[A]s the restaurants go, so goes the economy.” This goes far beyond the direct effects of job losses on the service industry. Forbes points to interconnected impacts, including impacts on delivery services, agricultural workers and various goods producers and refiners. In addition, restaurant failures also have a technological impact. The systems that uphold everything from sales to reservations become far more irrelevant if a restaurant cannot function properly. The scope of the service industry is much wider than many realize, and its success plays an imperative role in the economic success of an area. When restaurants are succeeding, job opportunities in multiple sectors become available and help to propel economic growth.

IPO Success and Economic Implications

When shares of Zomato hit the market at the end of July 2021, the initial public offering price was 91 rupees. However, the stock opened even higher at 116 rupees per share. At this price per share, the company’s valuation comes to approximately 910 billion rupees, equivalent to roughly $12.2 billion. Stock prices rose throughout the day on all trading markets where Zomato was available. Large-scale investors have held a stake in Zomato since as early as last year with Uber selling its food delivery business in India to Zomato in exchange for a stake in the company. Additionally, Ant Financial has also backed Zomato with a hefty agreement to invest upwards of $150 million.

These powerhouse corporations are fanning the flames of the food industry, creating opportunity in this new market in India and jump-starting economic growth. The predicted and continued success of this tech startup shows promise for cross-sectional economic development and subsequent poverty reduction.

Michelle M. Schwab
Photo: Unsplash

Esports Are Making an Impact on Global Poverty
For years, video games have had a bad reputation in the media, with critics citing problems such as increased laziness and aggressiveness in youth as a byproduct. However, video games have proven to be a useful resource and are beneficial to many across the globe. Here are some ways in which esports (electronic sports) impacts global poverty.

Tournaments for Charity

In response to the effects of COVID-19, several streamers and gaming tournaments have directed their profits toward charities. The recent Gamers Without Borders tournament was the largest esports charity event in history. The proceeds went toward various global organizations such as UNICEF and the International Medical Corps. Operating in more than 190 countries, UNICEF is an organization that has worked to minimize global poverty among youth for more than 75 years. Meanwhile, since 1984, the International Medical Corps has been providing medical aid to countries experiencing crises, including several impoverished nations. His Royal Highness Prince Faisal bin Bandar bin Sultan has even recognized Gamers Without Borders. He is also the chairman of the Saudi Arabian Federation for Electronic and Intellectual Sports (SAFEIS).

Games for Good

Popular games in the esports scene are also contributing to good causes. More than 50 million daily active users in China play the popular mobile game “Game For Peace.” The game helps raise awareness of underrepresented communities. Recently, the game introduced the Miao ethnic minority culture in Chongqing to the game. The annual per capita income of the village is just half of the national average. The game included the Miao people as a way of raising awareness about their livelihoods, such as their embroidery and farms. This could help alleviate poverty among the Miao people by creating a demand for their goods. Tourism has also contributed to the village’s economy, which more than tripled between 2012 and 2019.

Hope for Low-income Players

Another way in which esports impacts global poverty is by raising awareness of low-income groups. As the esports and video game industries grow, there is a demand for new jobs within these industries. In Brazil, the team Zero Gravity emerged, only hiring low-income players. Tournaments like the Favelas Cup and the Favelas Bowl occurred, providing those in need chances to win large money prizes. As the esports industry continues to grow in Brazil, many have the chance to escape poverty through careers, as displayed in this emerging industry. With millions of dollars of prize money on the line and average salaries of six figures, people have many financial incentives to join in.

Creating New Job Industries

In addition to Brazil, Cambodia, a nation still suffering from the effects of a civil war, is also tapping into this now billion-dollar esports industry. Cambodia had a poverty rate of 13.5% in 2014, with many of its citizens living in rural areas. However, the introduction of new technology has helped lessen the prevalence of poverty. Innovations such as smartphones and the internet have helped the country grow and improve its education system. As the country seeks to become more digitized, new sponsorship and career opportunities arise for video game players. These investments aim to help Cambodian gamers get more exposure at international tournaments, allowing this developing nation to break into the industry.

As the esports industry continues to grow, so do opportunities to aid the globally impoverished. Esports impacts global poverty by supporting gamers from around the world.

– Carly Johnson
Photo: Pixabay

3 Groups Creating Jobs in Underdeveloped CountriesPoor infrastructure and lack of job opportunities are among the top reasons that underdeveloped countries remain in poverty. Creating jobs in underdeveloped countries is key to achieving developmental goals and providing economic and political stability that can help many developing countries out of destitution. Furthermore, jobs provide income, independence and choice to individuals. It is for these reasons that creating jobs in underdeveloped countries can improve conditions and help in eliminating hunger and poverty. Creating new job opportunities can also help advance gender equality and many other pending societal issues.  In September 2015, many organizations came together to establish the U.N. 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which recognized the importance and impact of jobs on these economies. Since then, corporations and organizations have been launching efforts to try and reduce global poverty by creating more jobs in developing countries.

3 Groups Creating Jobs in Underdeveloped Countries

  1. The Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC): This U.S.-based finance development organization has long created jobs in underdeveloped countries that have boosted countries’ economies. OPIC has supported major infrastructure projects such as airports and hospitals, which have created many construction jobs. It also has provided and allocated financial resources to entrepreneurs in developing countries. These resources give entrepreneurs the means to start and grow their businesses, which will, in turn, produce more jobs. In 2019, OPIC merged with the Development Credit Authority, which was a part of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), to form the Development Finance Corporation (DFC). The DFC partners with the private sector to invest in energy, healthcare and technology initiatives, as well as infrastructure and jobs.
  2. The World Bank: The international organization works to reach goals in the employment sector by launching efforts to improve financial access, provide financial training and build more robust infrastructures for lacking governments. Due to the World Bank’s international efforts, countries are recognizing the top challenges they face using job diagnostics. After evaluating data, governments can focus on more pressing socioeconomic issues. This will create jobs that benefit people in need and give them more economic stability. The World Bank counsels governments to invest in transportation, information and communications to connect more people to job markets. Finally, the World Bank is responsible for developing programs that promote entrepreneurship in small-and-medium-sized businesses.
  3. Mother’s Service Society (MSS): Founded in 1970, MSS is a social science research institute in Pondicherry, India, that leads research and conferences on subjects from global leadership to economic theory. MSS research projects and conferences develop action plans to increase employment and create jobs in developing nations. These plans detail multiple factors that, when combined, generate employment and boost the economies of these countries. According to MSS, the Newly Industrializing Economies (NIEs) in East Asia have demonstrated that more comprehensive strategies for job generation have yielded the most progress. More comprehensive strategies for job generation can include ideas such as having more of an emphasis on agriculture, promoting small businesses, improve marketing efforts, develop exports and employment planning.

More Strategies

Besides the great work of these groups, other comprehensive strategies for creating jobs in underdeveloped countries include extending basic education, improving higher education, raising productivity and upgrading the skill level of workers. By implementing these strategies, economies can close socioeconomic gaps, join the global market and create more job opportunities.

– Annamarie Perez
Photo: Flickr 

Online businesses in GhanaPreviously, issues such as limited internet and bank access and informal home addresses made digital selling challenging for Ghanaian companies. However, advancement in these areas has allowed online businesses to grow, creating jobs in Ghana. Many college graduates in Ghana have started digital companies selling a wide range of products, including bags, footwear, clothes, grocery items, electronic goods and advanced cellular devices, among others. Some start companies also offer services such as repairing, cosmetics, interior decorating and photoshoots digitally. The growth of such companies has enabled them to offer many different types of employment to a greater population in Ghana.

Job Creation

From consumer services to promotions, financing to administrative tasks, retail managing to image consulting, online selling has many job opportunities to offer in Ghana, which had a 4.5% employment rate in 2020. For example, while the digital firm Jumia employs only around 500 people directly in online work, it employs more than 10,000 people indirectly. Online work does not always require people to have advanced technological abilities, only a willingness to learn. Online businesses also create associated non-online jobs.

For example, when people purchase meals and other items digitally, they require delivery. Nowadays, many companies offer delivery by motorcycle or van, creating many delivery jobs. Online businesses in Ghana also provide new jobs through collection posts, which have become more popular during the pandemic. These posts provide a safe and convenient way for customers to collect their goods while minimizing their risk of exposure to COVID-19. Collection posts hire post managers, shipment organizers and receptionists. In addition, some companies, such as Jumia, have encouraged digital businesses to expand by allowing people to collect their online purchases in-store.

Working from Home and New Digitial Stores

Many online businesses offer home-based and other off-site positions. Working from home not only enhances employees’ welfare and decreases stress, but it also helps reduce pollution as fewer people have to travel to work. Virtual connections allow people to associate with a worldwide community and conveniently work and buy what they need without having to travel. Additionally, digital companies can more easily provide short-term work such as contract, part-time and freelance work, which also helps to reduce poverty.

Moreover, in May 2018, a digital food store named Homeshoppa Ghana was introduced in Accra, the country’s capital. Homeshoppa Ghana matches its competitors’ prices in order to provide easily accessible, low-cost, standard groceries to every citizen. Access to stores like Homeshoppa Ghana allows people living in poverty to buy essential items at low prices.

Internet Advancements

The introduction of higher internet speeds and advanced cellphones in Ghana has helped prepare the marketplace for online retailers. By the end of 2017, 10.1 million Ghanaians, or 34%, were using the internet. As of January this year, the number of internet users had increased to 15.7 million. As more people begin to use the internet, online businesses are creating more new jobs in Ghana.

Jannique McDonald
Photo: Unsplash

STRYDE Program
The Strengthening Rural Youth Development through Enterprise (STRYDE) program has been helping women in developing countries develop and learn entrepreneurial skills as well as partner them with mentors. A mere 28% of Africa’s labor force consists of stable-wage jobs. The other 72% consists of income mainly from farming. Many African youths choose to move to the city, seeking better work opportunities. However, according to TechnoServe, 70% of youth remain in rural areas. These areas have a large absence of training and job opportunities.

Ndinagwe Mboya, STRYDE and Training

In Mbeya, Tanzania, one woman has managed to reinvent how the world views women entrepreneurs, especially young women. Ndinagwe Mboya, a 22-year-old, managed to revive her father’s struggling egg incubation businesses. Through lessons available through the STRYDE program, Mboya decided to capitalize on her family’s farm. Through STRYDE’s business plan competition, she won $165. She then used that money to purchase more eggs and subsequently raise more chickens. In a period of 45 days, she was able to triple her original profits. From this increase, she spread to working with other animals by breeding pigs and rabbits. She now earns $210 a month.

TechnoServe states that Business Women Connect has worked to empower women with the ingenuity and experience necessary to make their businesses thrive. The goal is to increase connection to mobile savings technologies and to provide greater access to vital business skills. The STRYDE program began in 2011 when Technoserve and the Mastercard Foundation partnered to ease the adversity of rural youth in Africa through financial independence.

By November 2020, more than 68,000 rural youths gained technical and soft skills through training. The curriculum includes the development of personal effectiveness, future plans, communication and confidence. Across Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda, 15,000 rural youths received sessions such as skills training, aftercare and mentoring. These sessions provided the knowledge necessary to expand their business opportunities.

STRYDE Program Models

The STRYDE program focuses on two main models.

  1. The Peer to Peer Model: Through this model, youths receive training directly from local Technoserve staff, such as Mboya. Approximately 70% of participants have received training through this model.
  2. Partnerships Model: About 30% of trainers have utilized the Partnerships Model, in which youths obtain training through partnerships, such as Vocational Training Institutions.

Mboya has become a mentor for other women entrepreneurs, taking part in a three-week training program designed for business counselors. Mboya takes pride in her work, teaching other Tanzanian businesswomen how to succeed in entrepreneurship and grow their businesses through the STRYDE curriculum. According to Technoserve, the STRYDE program taught Mboye to believe in herself and her abilities as an entrepreneur.

Successes of the Project

The average participant of the program has seen an increase in income by 133% and more than 48,000 youths total having benefited from the training institutions. STRYDE participants in Tanzania totaled 15,773, 61% of those being women. In Tanzania alone, the TechnoServe partnership has established eight Vocational Training Centers and eight local NGOs and community-based organizations (CBO).

The STRYDE program allows entrepreneurial women, such as Mboya, to gain the confidence and skills needed to succeed in a mainly male-dominated field.

Nina Eddinger
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Tourism in Latin America ReducesLatin America is a vast region with diverse weather, geography, culture and foods. Each year, millions of tourists flock to Latin America to enjoy its natural beauty. A vacation haven, tourism in Latin America is a driving force for economic development in the region. Furthermore, tourism in Latin America reduces poverty.

Tourism in Latin America

From the beaches of Cuba to the Andes mountains in Peru, any traveler can find a destination of their preference. The most visited countries in Latin America are Mexico, Brazil and Argentina. According to the World Bank, more than 113 million tourists traveled to Latin America in 2018, bringing $103 billion worth of revenue. Tourism in Latin America has created more than 15 million jobs, which accounts for 7.6% of all employment. Furthermore, international tourism contributes roughly $348 billion to the GDP of the countries in the region.

Ecotourism in Costa Rica

According to the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), Central America saw a 7.3% growth in its tourism sector, the biggest subregional growth in Latin America. Moreover, the country of Costa Rica has attracted millions of international visitors thanks to its ecotourism. Costa Rica is a leader in preserving its environment while attracting millions to come and enjoy its natural beauty. Beaches, rainforests, volcanoes and wildlife attract tourists which contributes to the economic development of the nation. A study conducted by the National Academy of Sciences correlates ecotourism with improving the lives of Costa Ricans. The study found those living near protected areas and parks saw a 16% reduction in poverty. Furthermore, tourism in the country accounts for 5% of the GDP.

Poverty Reduction in the Dominican Republic

Punta Cana is the dream destination for many, with captivating views of the ocean and exciting nightlife, the beach town welcomes 60% of all Dominican Republic’s tourists. Moreover, the country has benefited more from international tourism than any other Latin American nation. The tourism industry contributes to 9.5% of the island nation’s GDP. Even though poverty is still an issue for the country, extreme poverty decreased to 1.6% of the population in 2018. Furthermore, malnourishment has also decreased and life expectancy has increased. Tourism has steadily contributed to the well-being of Dominicans.

COVID-19 and Mexico

Mexico’s tourism is very important for its economy. Mexico is dependent on its tourism sector since it accounts for 16.1% of its GDP and employs nearly nine million people. Destinations such as Cancun, Puerto Vallarta and Cabo are very popular for tourists to visit. Furthermore, Mexico’s tourism was thriving until the COVID-19 pandemic brought challenges to the country. The pandemic brought a halt to tourism and hurt the economy of Mexico. Nonetheless, Mexico still manages to keep the industry alive. Mexico began to limit hotel and restaurant capacity to curtail the virus. Mexico is also working with the CDC to ensure U.S. travelers going back to the United States are returning uninfected. Even though tourism has decreased because of the pandemic, flights to the state of Quintana Roo, where Cancun and Tulum are located, were averaging 460 air arrivals compared to an average of 500 pre-pandemic.

Tourism and the Future

Tourism in Latin America has positively impacted many lives across the region. The U.N. acknowledges that tourism is a way for a developing country to economically sustain itself. Moreover, tourism in Latin America reduces poverty. Challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic put a setback to the growing tourism sector. Regardless, Latin America has an abundance of beauty and adventure, thus ensuring tourism will be kept alive once the pandemic is over.

– Andy Calderon Lanza
Photo: Flickr

Video Games in AfricaThe global video game industry is valued at $140 billion and Africa is primed to take a piece of the action. Between 2014 and 2018, the number of African gamers rose from 23 million to a staggering 500 million, opening up a lucrative opportunity for the African gaming industry to become a major player. Video games in Africa have the potential to transform poverty in the continent.

Video Gaming Industry in Africa

Every year, the African gaming industry grows by more than 8%, with new gaming companies opening frequently. The Festival of Electronics and Video Games of Abidjan (FEJA), is a video gaming event in Africa with the main aim of creating jobs in the industry. The event’s organizers see the three-day event as an opportunity to exemplify the immense potential the industry has in Africa.

Although there are already innovative African gaming companies such as Work’d and Paradise Game, video games in Africa are often overlooked. However, Paradise Game founder and CEO, Sidick Bakayoko, predicts that by 2025, West Africa alone will have room to create over one million jobs in the gaming sector and the continent as a whole could create five million jobs.

Urgent Evoke Video Game

A game designer named Jane McGonigal has developed a game specifically promoted to African gamers called “Urgent Evoke”. The game exists both online and in the real world. To progress in the game, players must complete real-life activism such as reaching out to government leaders, researching environmental solutions, contributing time to alleviate poverty and other acts of contribution. Players must document these actions and submit them to advance in the game.

McGonigal’s goal with “Urgent Evoke” is to empower Africans to become active problem-solvers and tackle poverty and other issues in their communities. In addition to promoting and requiring activism, the game awards prizes to winners, including mentorships, scholarships, internships and startup money to foster entrepreneurship.

Video Games and Perception

Game developers like McGonigal and Bakayoko aim to use video games in Africa to change the way Africans view themselves and their continent as well as change how the world views Africa. The continent is often seen as a dangerous place filled with hunger and war. By creating games set in Africa led by positive African characters, developers can change perceptions and help Africans see themselves through a more confident, leadership lens.

These games have the power to reduce prejudice toward poverty and help people understand impoverished nations and join the fight to help them. Many hold the false belief that poverty is something self-inflicted or personally controllable. Cultivation theory states that the media that people absorb affects the way they perceive the world.

Video games in Africa have the influence to create a more accepting and representative industry. Games such as “Urgent Evoke” change perceptions, allowing African gamers to be their own heroes both online and in the real world.

Potential for Poverty Reduction in Africa

The growing industry of video games in Africa has created a plethora of jobs but there is a lack of skilled labor. Unfortunately, many Africans have not realized the immense potential that video games in Africa have for the continent.

Most parents do not see video games as a lucrative skill-building task. For the video game industry in Africa to truly flourish, the younger generation must have access to coding and tech education.

This is not yet at the forefront of mainstream education, but the continent, especially South Africa, is abundant with resources to educate Africans in the gaming industry. Even without money for a proper university, coding boot camps or proximity to a city, Africans can take online coding courses to get their foot into the tech industry and contribute to Africa’s immense gaming growth.

– Veronica Booth
Photo: Unsplash

Private Sector JobsThe private sector makes up nine out of 10 jobs in the global market and with about 735 million people living at or below the extreme poverty line, it is essential that this vulnerable population has access to private sector jobs. The private sector, also known as the citizen sector, is owned by private corporations rather than the government and companies all around the world make up the majority of the economy with private sector jobs. Companies within the private sector can greatly benefit from providing people living in poverty with jobs as an investment that will lead to global poverty reduction.

The Role of the Private Sector in Poverty Reduction

It is crucial that the private sector takes responsibility for providing jobs, even in situations that require extensive training and infrastructure, as an investment in people living in poverty will lead to competition within the market as well as exponential growth within the company. The Global Impact Sourcing Coalition (GISC) created a toolkit to provide private sector companies with the skills and knowledge necessary to reduce poverty through employment. This toolkit outlines the benefits of workplace inclusion for people living in extreme poverty, not only from an economic standpoint but as a social responsibility as well. Outlined in the toolkit is the importance of networking and creating opportunities for people to fight poverty.

Microlending as a Poverty Reduction Tool

The Foundation for Economic Education (FEE) prioritizes microlending from the private sector as a source of poverty alleviation. Microlending is the act of loaning out very small amounts of money to self-employed individuals living in developing countries by banks and institutions. The FEE highlights a famous example of this, Grameen Bank, founded by Muhammed Yunus in Bangladesh in 1983. The Grameen Bank makes loans of $30 to $200 per person and has been able to reach millions, majority of whom are females who use the money to buy supplies in order to make and distribute their products. This is just one example of private sector work being done to connect people with limited access to resources to the job market and create opportunities.

Social Impact Matters

Traditionally, poverty has been a focus of governments rather than private companies and institutions, however, recently, partnerships between these two have been sought as the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals are focused on poverty alleviation. These partnerships between governments and private organizations are focused in areas of development, education, health, agriculture and climate change, all of which prioritize private sector jobs to fight poverty. One motivation for the private sector to participate in expanding its labor force to vulnerable communities is that of reducing reputational risks and beneficial brand awareness. PYXERA Global looks into the opportunities provided by public-private partnerships through the lens of economic development and explains that customers are now more than ever likely to consider the social impact of a specific company when it comes to purchasing products.

Social Responsibilities of the Private Sector

In order for private sector jobs to fight poverty, it is essential that organizations and corporations take social responsibility to invest in vulnerable populations that will lead to long-term positive impacts for the global economy. Strategies to employ impoverished communities in the private sector workforce have already been put in place and will continue to be essential in both alleviating poverty and expanding the global economy.

– Caroline Pierce
Photo: Flickr

Skills Training for African Youth
Africa is no stranger to the challenges of an underdeveloped workforce. Africa has a history of economic crisis paired with harsh conditions to yield ample commodities. The trend for unemployment in Africa’s younger generations is trending upward. The rate at which African youths enroll in job-specific training is also rising slightly. As of 2012, 20.4% of young African students had enrollment in training that would benefit them in the workforce. Projections have determined that this number will be approximately 20.8% in 2021; a small but encouraging increase. Here is additional information about employment in Africa and how some are providing skills training to African youth.

The Situation

Unfortunately for young African women in job training, the numbers have dropped from 26.3% in 2012 to 25.8% in 2020. Cultural belief systems continue to be a barrier for young women in Africa entering the workforce.

Since 2012, the youth unemployment rate has declined from 11.8% in 2012 to 11% in 2020, and expectations have determined that it will remain at 11% in 2021. While Africa’s youth unemployment rate is lower than the global average, this is not a good indicator of economic success and a great need exists for skills training in Africa. About 37.6% of Africans in the workforce are living in extreme poverty and earning less than $1.90 USD per day which exceeds the global average of 35.4% in 2020. Research shows that the poverty rates link to the quality of work available in Africa.

Africa comprises 54 countries and is home to 1.2 billion people. Many industries exist that hold the promise of growth for the younger generation in Africa if they receive the proper skills training. Many of the jobs in Africa relate to farming. Projections state that Africa’s agricultural business will grow to $1 trillion USD in the next 10 years. About 50% of all of Africa’s usable farmland has not undergone cultivation yet. With the expansion of agriculture comes the need for jobs in advisory positions, veterinary medicine, management and more. Additionally, a greater need for professional services such as banks, communication companies, construction and technology will emerge.

Currently, African youth earn less than $150 USD per month on average. This statistic is true for youths who have been out of school for as long as five years and is largely due to a lack of skills training in Africa.

International Consultants for Education and Fairs (ICEF)

International Consultants for Education and Fairs (ICEF) recognizes the unique challenges that the younger generations in Africa face and seeks to respond by providing skills training to African youth. About 250 million youths in Africa are preparing to enter the workforce. Projections have determined that that number will rise to 321 million by 2030. Though students do graduate from secondary school, they often find themselves in what the U.S. would consider entry-level or lower careers such as driving a cab.

Even after paying university tuition while studying subjects such as math and science, youths in Africa still frequently lack the skills necessary to secure middle-class jobs. ICEF recognizes the need
for skills training in Africa to include vocational training and apprenticeships as a part of a degree program. Not only would these apprenticeships be beneficial to companies’ labor costs but they would also give students the hands-on experience they need to enter the workforce.

Beginning in 2021, ICEF will be returning to Africa virtually to help increase educational content to institutions in Africa that lack up-to-date academic plans and provide a network for educators in countries such as Rwanda, Nigeria, Kenya, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Ghana.

The last event occurred in Africa in 2019 and was a success at helping those who educate Africa’s younger generation and assist with skills training. About 241 individuals residing in 43 countries participated in the event. Thirteen African markets received representation and many made connections across the international education plane to help bring skills training to Africa and help lift more people out of poverty.

Meeting the job skills training needs of young people in Africa can offer a long-term solution to some of the tragedies that young people on the continent are facing today. With the collaboration of more developed countries sharing their approach and resources, Africa can make progress by providing skills training to African youth.

– Carolyn Lancour
Photo: Flickr

IMF in JordanJordan, bordered by Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Syria and Israel, is an Arab country in the Middle East. The country is on the East Bank of the Jordan River yet relatively landlocked. It has accordingly received a massive influx of Palestinian and Syrian refugees. Recently, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Jordan provided two different forms of economic relief to people in light of the ratio of debt to its gross domestic product (GDP) and the current pandemic. Read more about the IMF in Jordan below.

The Effects of the Pandemic on Jordan

Jordan’s economy will experience contraction in 2020 due to the effects of COVID-19. The pandemic-induced lockdown significantly impacted 250,000 daily-wage workers and businesses facing a liquidity crisis. It also delayed foreign investment, trade and tourism. The latter industry generates $5 billion annually for Jordan.

Only 11.3% of respondents in a UNDP survey claimed that their income was unaffected by the pandemic, which has significantly impacted young adults. In the survey, 38.3% of respondents experienced challenges getting clean drinking water, and 69.3% struggled with accessing basic healthcare.

Countries in the Middle East and Central Asia, including Jordan, will experience a 4.7% drop in its constant-price GDP, adjusted for the effects of inflation, in 2020. Additionally, the average size of economic relief programs in the Middle East was smaller than in other regions in the world. The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) oil-importing countries’ ratio of debt to income will reach 95% in 2020. Thankfully, the IMF provided $17 billion in aid to the area since the beginning of 2020. It also helped catalyze $5 billion from creditors.

The IMF in Jordan

Jordan’s four-year Extended Fund Facility (EFF) is a partnership between the Jordanian government and IMF staff, which focuses its $1.3 billion on growth, jobs and social safety nets. The loan program, approved on March 25, 2020, will create more jobs for women and young people. EFF funds finance the general budget, including health, education and social support, while also providing support to Jordan’s Syrian refugees.

Although the IMF in Jordan created the EFF funds before the pandemic, it changed the program to support spending on emergency outlays and medical equipment. The IMF in Jordan also helped secure congressional grants to ease annual debt, as public debt increased in the past decade to an amount equivalent to 97% of its GDP.

In addition, the IMF in Jordan approved $400 million in emergency assistance under the Rapid Financing Instrument (RFI) to fight the COVID-19 pandemic in May 2020. Due to the fall of domestic consumption during the outbreak, these funds answer companies’ and consumers’ borrowing needs. The government will spend the RFI funds through the national treasury account, where specific budget lines track and report crisis-related expenditures.

The emergency economic assistance allows for higher healthcare budgets, containment and support to vulnerable households and businesses. Moreover, it will ease external financing constraints and avoid loss in official reserves. The $1.5 billion balance of payment gaps, however, will emerge with increased public debt and a widened fiscal deficit.

Moving Forward

Despite the challenges presented by the pandemic, Jordan’s tech start-ups, global supply chains and exporting masks have helped its economy. Tech literacy, in particular, has been especially vital for Jordanian youth to find remote jobs. Moreover, the EFF program can ensure support for the people in Jordan by easing access to basic needs. The program will also help reduce the impacts of poverty by increasing social protection coverage on poor families.

Monetary and fiscal authorities in Jordan have reduced interest rates and delayed bank loan installments and tax payments due to the outbreak, injecting over $700 million in liquidity. Additionally, the country implemented a cash-flow relief program for companies. It also activated the National Aid Fund cash transfer program for daily wage workers.

Jordan has prioritized human safety for its citizens and refugees in the fight against COVID-19. So far, it has only had low to moderate numbers of per capita COVID-19 cases. Thanks to the help of the IMF in Jordan, the country seems to be on track to recover from pandemic.

Isabella Thorpe
Photo: Flickr