Youth Entrepreneurship in Serbia
Serbia is a southeastern European country with an upper-middle-income economy. It ranks relatively high on the Human Development Index (63rd), Social Progress Index (53rd) and the Global Peace Index (54th). However, the nation suffers from high unemployment, especially in the youth population: Serbia recorded a youth unemployment rate of 30.3% in 2019. The lack of entry-level jobs consequently drives many young Serbians to flee their home country in search of work elsewhere. However, USAID has invested in an inventive solution to this problem: initiatives to promote youth entrepreneurship in Serbia.

Impact Hub Belgrade—Fostering Youth Entrepreneurship

USAID’s most notable endeavor is Impact Hub Belgrade. Impact Hub is a USAID-funded global network focusing on establishing entrepreneurial communities in cities worldwide. Serbia’s Impact Hub is located in Belgrade, Serbia’s capital city. It specifically focuses on youth entrepreneurship, helping youth-led start-ups to attract potential regional and international investors. In particular, it helps hone and validate young entrepreneurs’ business models, providing them with the materials and skills needed to turn their ideas into reality. Insufficient access to finance is the number-one challenge young entrepreneurs face. Therefore, Impact Hub dedicates itself to eliminating this obstacle and creating boundless opportunities for young Serbians. The program celebrated its fifth anniversary in December 2019.

Impact Hub Belgrade also prioritizes gender equality in its work. While Impact Hub Belgrade has a special focus on youth, it also recognizes the unique barriers that young female entrepreneurs face. On its anniversary in December, Impact Hub launched Women Entrepreneurs (WE) Founders, the first Serbian female investment group dedicated to fostering and supporting gender-diverse entrepreneurial teams and companies. Some of its techniques include ensuring women have an equal role in decision making, building trusting relationships between men and women in the workplace and encouraging women to take leadership positions.

Junior Achievement

Junior Achievement is another USAID-funded entrepreneurial program. The program is a training curriculum with the intention of teaching Serbian high school students the essentials of entrepreneurship. These essentials include writing business plans, identifying product placement and forecasting earnings. It ensures Serbian high school graduates enter the job market with the technical skills necessary to successfully establish a business. And while Junior Achievement programs are present throughout Europe, Serbia’s is among the strongest; in 2018, Belgrade hosted the European Student Company Competition, where 39 student-led companies from across the continent convened to present their businesses to a jury of prominent Serbian entrepreneurs.

Non-Governmental Organizations

Non-governmental organizations also support young entrepreneurs. A notable example is Smart Kolektiv, an independent nonprofit organization with the stated purpose of promoting youth entrepreneurship in Serbia. Smart Kolektiv assists young entrepreneurs in establishing their businesses. Its hope is that Serbia’s youth will use their power to drive positive social change.

Success in Entrepreneurship

Young entrepreneur success stories abound across Serbia. One example of lucrative youth entrepreneurship in Serbia is Nikica Marinkovic’s Box System, an eco-friendly replacement for styrofoam designed to transport organic produce. Thanks to Impact Hub, Marinkovic gained funding from Austrian investors and U.S. markets that allowed him to expand his business.

Encouraging youth entrepreneurship in Serbia is just one way to encourage young Serbians to stay in their home country and fulfill their dreams. However, the popularity of these initiatives and their encouraging results also demonstrate that fostering youth entrepreneurship is a lucrative option for Serbia’s economy. Prosperous, youth-led operations continue to emerge throughout Serbia, from independent coffee shops to cutting-edge technologies.

Abby Tarwater
Photo: Flickr

Innovations in Poverty EradicationA new job-search platform in South Africa seeks to put an end to youth unemployment. Entrepreneurs Anish Shivdasani and Shafin Anwarsha founded an online company called Giraffe in 2015 to help reduce the staggering youth unemployment rate. Securing jobs for young South Africans is key to alleviating life-long poverty, as well as improving education and access to resources. The startup uses a specialized algorithm to match job-seekers to employers, making it one of the many innovations in poverty eradication in South Africa.

Solving Unemployment in South Africa

Around 40% of South Africans are unemployed, and the youth unemployment rate is even higher at nearly 50%. The government has made efforts to dismantle poverty and inequality since the end of apartheid in 1994 by building over two million new houses, improving access to clean water and distributing social grants to millions of people in poverty. The economy grew by roughly 3.5% yearly from 1998 to 2008, producing millions of new jobs. The financial crisis of 2008 halted some of this progress, but all efforts for improvement will neutralize if half of the country’s young people grow up outside of the job market.

With the long-term effects of youth unemployment in mind, Shivdasani and Anwarsha set out to curb the trend. In 2015, they introduced Giraffe to South Africa’s smallest province Gauteng, home of the country’s largest city Johannesburg. A year later, with 100,000 job-seekers signed up, they brought Giraffe to the greater metro areas of Cape Town and Durban. Today, over 1 million people have joined the platform as well as thousands of businesses, both small and large, looking for the right match.

The App That is Not Just for Smartphones

As one of the innovations in poverty eradication in South Africa, Giraffe’s success is a direct result of its ease of use and technological innovation. Anyone with a cellphone that has an internet browser, not necessarily a smartphone, can use the service. Job-seekers must first visit Giraffe’s website from whatever device they have available, and then fill out a form that takes about eight or nine minutes. The company then creates a CV for the user and uploads it to their database. Employers have a short sign-up process as well.

From there, Giraffe’s algorithm does all of the work, matching the right candidates to the right jobs. The algorithm will even set up the interview at an agreed-upon time. Most recruitment agencies require an agent to contact both parties and review qualifications by hand. Giraffe works faster and keeps costs extremely low for businesses by employing technology instead, charging up to 30 times less than other recruitment agencies. The platform is free for job-seekers.

The Future of Giraffe and UNICEF’s Innovation Fund

In July 2020, Giraffe became a recipient of funding from UNICEF’s Innovation Fund, along with 10 other start-ups around the world that are focused on eradicating inequality of opportunity for young people. In recognition of the importance of education and skill-level on employability, Giraffe intends to use the money to build a job-seeker content portal, drawing from Giraffe’s labor market data and highlighting the most in-demand skills. The new feature will help educate and upskill young people to improve their career prospects and will hold Giraffe to a higher standard as one of the newest innovations in poverty eradication in South Africa.

In addition to the funding, Giraffe now has access to UNICEF’s team of innovators and networks, and plans are in place to make both the matching algorithm and content portal open source for other global organizations to use.

McKenna Black
Photo: Flickr

Homelessness in Papua New GuineaAmidst everything that is currently happening around the world, one of the biggest challenges that Papua New Guinea faces is the growth of youth which already represents 60% of the entire population. If the government does not start acting accordingly, then these young people could become vulnerable to delinquency and violence and end up increasing overall homelessness in Papua New Guinea.

Life of Homeless Children

According to the Life PNG Care Director Collin Pake, there were around 5,000 homeless children in Port Moresby, the capital of Papua New Guinea, in 2018. Many of them migrated from the rural areas of PNG looking for cleaning jobs as a way to help their families, while others received encouragement to go to the capital in search of their dreams. Additionally, others left home after experiencing abandonment from their families or ran away because of abuse or losing their family to illness.

Housing Crisis

But no matter their reasons, when coming to the capital they encounter many obstacles that do not let them prosper. Since the beginning of the 21st century, the employment per ratio population in Papua New Guinea has considerably dropped from 69% to 46%. It is not news that finding well-paid employment in the capital is hard. For that reason, many young people engage in informal jobs to subsist, as well as many live out in the streets due to the high rent.

According to a research by Professor Eugene Ezebilo, head of the property development program at the PNG National Research Institute, rent around the capital is too high for low-income families; often an apartment listing can go for around $300-600 USD a week, which represents rent stress for many families living in Port Moresby. In this way, many either become homeless, recur to ask for money from other family members or live in the outskirts of the city in informal houses.

How Life PNG Care Improves the Lives of Homeless Children

In an effort to reduce homelessness in Papua New Guinea, Pake and his wife started LIfe PNG Care 12 years ago. In 2018, it granted shelter, food and care to around 54 children. It even offers an education program that caters to 100 children.

Life PNG Care offers accommodation, education and advocates for child protection. They run three main education programs: the Strongim Pikinini program, Home School education program and Mobile Education program.

Furthermore, efforts of NCD Food Bank volunteers have resulted in the preparation of food bags for the homeless, street kids, people with disabilities and those who are experiencing food poverty in Port Moresby. This work has been especially important during the COVID-19 lockdown.

Yet, the problem still continues unless more results come from the government. Indeed, a way to not let the youth become an obstacle for the economy is supporting them in every way possible with better access to education, health and employment. This youth with guidance can become quite an exceptional asset for the economy and in ending homelessness in Papua New Guinea

Alannys Milano
Photo: Flickr

Unemployment in South Africa
Although South Africa’s GDP is the second-highest in Africa, more than 50% of the population lives in poverty. One of the factors preventing people from escaping poverty is the nation’s staggering unemployment rate. With over 28.18% of the population looking for work in 2019, South Africa’s unemployment rate is one of the highest in the world. Giraffe is a job recruitment platform that Anish Shivdasani created in 2015 with the mission of alleviating unemployment in South Africa.

3 Causes of Unemployment in South Africa

  1. Apartheid systematically excluded black people from the educational system and the skilled workforce throughout the 20th century. Recently, there are more women and people of color participating in the education system and receiving training. As a result, there are more job seekers in South Africa than there are hiring employers.
  2. South Africa’s labor market favors highly skilled workers. This results in few accessible jobs for the general public. The nation’s labor laws, which include high wages and policies that constrain employers from letting employees go, discourage employers from hiring young workers with minimal experience.
  3. Despite the government’s increased spending on education, the South African education system does not provide students with adequate training or skills necessary for the type of employment available in the formal sector. Additionally, many students are unable to finish school and are, therefore, highly likely to experience unemployment. The problems within the nation’s education system resulted in a youth unemployment rate of 55.97% in 2019.

Giraffe: A Solution

More than 1 million job seekers use Giraffe’s platform, and the software has invited more than 500,000 applicants for an interview in the last five years. The app is convenient for both employers and applicants, as it takes just a few minutes to post a job with the employer’s desired criteria. Here are three ways Giraffe addresses the problem of unemployment in South Africa.

3 Ways Giraffe Addresses Unemployment

  1. Giraffe aims to empower its employers by focusing on the problem of job retention in South Africa. The technology screens candidates so that employers only have to assess applicants that meet their qualifications. Giraffe even provides an option for a voice recording through which applicants respond to a question that the employer poses. Therefore, when candidates receive a request to come in for an interview, employers are confident that they have picked the right person for the job.
  2. Giraffe is the platform with the most medium-skilled workers in South Africa, including recent graduates and students. The app offers jobs for many levels of training rather than just providing jobs to wealthy, highly educated applicants. This could eventually serve to reduce the youth unemployment rate by providing opportunities to young people with mid-level training.
  3. In 2019, Giraffe announced that it would provide its services “for free to exempted micro-enterprises (EMEs) who are willing to hire first-time job-seekers.” This helps small businesses who are often unable to afford job-recruitment technology. In South Africa, where economic competition is rare and small businesses struggle to gain traction, Giraffe’s services could serve to invigorate entrepreneurial culture while actively reducing unemployment.

Impact of COVID-19

With more than 380,000 cases and over 5,000 deaths, COVID-19 has taken a toll on unemployment in South Africa, which experts expect to increase to 35.31% by December 2020. Additionally, 8.1% of people reported having closed their businesses or lost their jobs due to the COVID-19 lockdown in May 2020.

Giraffe’s platform will be integral to the thousands of people who lose their jobs in the wake of COVID-19, as more people will be looking for work once the virus subsides. The company also adapted to COVID-19 by educating other start-ups about how to conduct business productively from home.

Looking Forward

In the future, Giraffe aims to provide job training through its app. This should provide even more opportunities for job seekers to improve their skills, become qualified for higher-paying jobs and to meet more employers’ criteria. The start-up also intends to expand internationally and to continue to narrow its focus on small businesses.

Giraffe is a fast-growing company using modern technology that has garnered support and funding from around the world. Unemployment remains one of the most pressing issues in South Africa. However, companies like Giraffe provide tangible solutions that will help address the issue of unemployment in South Africa.

Melina Stavropoulos
Photo: Flickr

In the past few years, Kyrgyzstan youth have stepped up to address poverty reduction and promote the well-being of women and children in Kyrgyzstan. The U.N. has worked with Kyrgyzstan youth representatives to promote the Sustainable Development Goals and has partnered with youth who are passionate about using IT solutions to fight domestic violence. In addition, youth are raising awareness about human trafficking and investing in their own wellbeing in conjunction with local governments.

Youth Promoting SDGs

Between 2019 and 2020, the U.N. began an initiative allowing Kyrgyzstan youth to step up and spread awareness amongst their generation about implementing the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs include things like “no poverty” and “zero hunger.” Through this program, 34 Kyrgyzstan youth have partnered with U.N. campaigns to advance the SDGs and show others what steps can be taken to achieve them. Each SDG is assigned to two youth representatives. Participants are passionate about the chosen SDG, as it often relates to the representative’s area of study in school or experiences growing up.

As Aibek Asanov, a youth representative for Clean Water and Sanitation (SDG 6) said, “I believe that youth can change the future. This is why I became the SDG Delegate.”

Youth Against Human Trafficking

Kyrgyzstan youth have also taken a stand against human trafficking. Through Kyrgyzstan’s 2017-2020 State Program against Trafficking in Persons, 80 youth ambassadors have represented 30 youth groups across Kyrgyzstan. These youth ambassadors work with local government and media groups, and gather for a yearly conference to discuss the goals and developments of the program. The program focuses on eliminating child marriage and forced marriage. It also provides access to resources for victims of human trafficking. In 2018, the program had positively influenced more than 600,000 people and utilized the work of 5,000 youth activists.

Youth Spearhead IT Campaign to Fight Domestic Violence

In 2020, the UNDP partnered with youth coders and designers to develop IT solutions that fight domestic violence against women and children. These solutions are especially needed for those trapped in quarantine due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In cooperation with the Spotlight Initiative, UNDP organized a two-day hackathon that addressed solutions in 4 areas:

  • Violence against women
  • Violence against children
  • Migrant children in difficult situations
  • Those with disabilities in difficult situations

Within two days, over 50 developers came up with 18 IT solutions to aid people in these four areas. Of these projects, the three winners created very different but useful solutions. One addressed recognizing domestic violence and connecting people to the necessary resources. Another focused on victims’ access to online psychologists. The third winner used fairy tales to track children’s mental health.

Youth Partnership with Local Governance

Since 2017, UNICEF has encouraged Kyrgyzstan youth to take initiative in advancing their own wellbeing by partnering with local governments. So far, the Youth and Child Friendly Local Governance (YCHFLG) program has reached 24 rural and 18 urban precincts to place importance on services for young people and ensure that local governments prioritize the needs of Kyrgyzstan youth. The program encourages the involvement of youth in decision-making and politics. Youth can share their insight and preferences, which are then taken into account by local governments when plans are put into place.

In just a few years, Kyrgyzstan youth have taken initiative. They have impacted poverty reduction by addressing the SDGs, raising awareness about human trafficking, using creativity and innovation to end domestic violence and becoming involved in the political process. Passionate, poverty-aware youth will continue to be instrumental to future progress in Kyrgyzstan.

– Anita Durairaj
Photo: Wikimedia

Youth Sports Empowerment Programs in Tanzania
The United Republic of Tanzania’s Ministry of Labour, Employment and Youth Development recognizes the crucial role sports play in young people’s development. However, people in the country have been doing little to develop youth talents, resulting in inadequate facilities for sports and training grounds. The following information examines the situation along with the efforts to promote the youth sports empowerment programs in Tanzania and the organizations at the forefront of the movement.

The Situation

The Tanzanian government focuses on youth development since youth make up 18% of the population. However, with three-quarters of youth employment in agriculture and rapid urbanization, youth are vulnerable in the labor market. Less than 12% of the total population completes lower secondary education, and those with post-secondary education earn approximately 40 times more than the general population. To change this, many organizations are using sports to give underprivileged youth the skills they need to secure job opportunities.

The UN’s Leadership Camp

The U.N. acknowledges the role of sports in empowering underprivileged youth from Sub-Saharan Africa. It established a leadership camp consisting of 30 young people serving as leaders in their communities. The U.N. Office on Sport for Development and Peace ran this initiative and addressed topics such as health, education and gender. The U.N. Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Sport for Development and Peace, Wilfried Lemke, stated that “The United Nations has long understood the unique power of sport for change, but for change to happen, strong leadership is needed.”

Youth Sports Empowerment Programs in Tanzania

The Tanzanian nonprofit organization Foundation For Civil Society (FCS) is implementing youth-focused projects in six regions of Tanzania. These projects use educational sports and games to mobilize youth in the suburbs of Dar es Salaam. This establishes a beneficial platform between youth and their leaders.

Umoja Tanzania is an NGO that partners with Umoja UK and Global Development Group to support Tanzanian youth. Umoja focuses on 55.33% of unemployed youth who lack alternatives in education or employment. The organizations YES! program transforms young lives through sports. In disadvantaged communities in Tanzania, youth learn inclusion, empowerment and sustainability. These sports and activities not only teach new skills but build confidence and self-esteem in youth.

Since more than 75% of Africa’s total population is under 35 years old, young people face profound challenges. Africare is an NGO that works to build sustainable, healthy and productive communities. Without the right resources, youth are vulnerable to drugs and crime. Africare’s Kick AIDS project uses soccer to create positive environments, engaging young people in HIV prevention education. Africare’s Northern Region Kick AIDS soccer league educated 1,380 youths in the Sports For Life curriculum about how healthy behaviors keep them safe as they enter adulthood.

While youth in Tanzania suffer from a lack of resources, sports provide a foundation for teaching life skills and economic development. Youth sports empowerment programs in Tanzania not only encourage youth to seek out jobs but provide them with an encouraging environment to grow physically and professionally.

Erica Fealtman
Photo: Flickr

Homelessness in SenegalSenegal is often seen as a stable country politically and economically relative to its neighbors in the West African region. This perception has been further validated in the last decade with its peaceful elections and a GDP growth averaging approximately 6% since 2014. Still, the country is not without its challenges. Though poverty hasn’t been measured since 2011, it is estimated that around 39% of the population lives below the poverty line. Homelessness in Senegal is a major consequence of poverty that needs urgent attention, especially amid COVID-19.

Street Youths of Dakar

In Senegal, homelessness especially affects many children. In the capital city of Dakar, which has a population of 1.06 million people, an estimated 40,000 street youths are without shelter. Some of these children are Talibes. Talibes are “youths from Koranic schools known as daaras who are forced to beg for money. There are also those who fled such schools. Others come from broken families or have lost their homes because of poverty.”

Recently COVID-19 and the resulting lockdown have exasperated the lives of these homeless children in Senegal. The thin protection these children once had in small generosities from restaurants and pedestrians have been erased as services and public pedestrian presence have gone dormant for lockdown. Lackluster sanitation and drug usage compound the street youths’ vulnerable position amid the COVID-19 pandemic. As of early July 2020, Senegal has reported thousands of cases of COVID-19 and under 100 deaths.

Helping Hands

In April, Senegal’s Ministry of Family launched a coronavirus emergency plan for street children, opening up about 13 educational social centers and other venues in Dakar. Outside of government support, NGOs like the French-Senegalese Village Pilote has aided homeless children in Dakar sprung into action. Village Pilote offers homeless children in Senegal meals and shelter as well as space for recreation. Issa Faye, a 19-year-old living on the street told Reuters: “Because of the disease people were avoiding us, we had problems getting (medical) treatment, and also the police kept running after us. Only this centre accepts children and youngsters our age and from the streets…”

Value of Aid

COVID-19 highlights how easily vulnerable demographics such as the homeless street youths of Senegal can be left behind without consideration, underscoring the value of aid. Supporting funding for the International Affairs Budget to address the consequences of the pandemic is also essential to protecting the health, security and economic interests of all Americans.

– Caleb Hughes
Photo: Flickr

EU Youth UnemploymentIn 2019, the EU youth unemployment rate was at its lowest point in the last 10 years. More than 3.3 million young people (aged 15-24 years) were unemployed that same year, but compared with the previous year (2018), the situation looks much better. In 2018, more than 5.5 million young people were neither employed nor enrolled at an educational institution or training program. This vital change is achieved thanks to multiple EU policies and tools. It provides proper training and education, prepares youngsters for the labor market and gives them the chance to be competitive and successful. However, it is important to note that youth unemployment is 10 points higher than the average and there is a lot more space for improvement.

EU Youth Unemployment: Social and Economic Impacts

Eurostat reports show that EU youth unemployment rates are much higher than unemployment rates for all other age groups. In January 2019, jobless men and women above the age of 25 are 5.7%. As for the same period, rates among youths are 14% which is almost three times higher.

The unemployment rate is an essential indicator of both social and economic dimensions of youth poverty. Dangerously high unemployment rates show that young people can’t find their place in the labor market. Thus, they are not an active part of society. Jobless youngsters most often live with their parents, which destroys their learning motivation and civic engagement. Additionally, the lack of financial independence prevents them from going out and traveling. The combination of these factors kills their drive to find a job that creates even deeper despair on the emotional level.

A vicious circle starts forming around these young people who lose interest in social causes, politics and innovations. Once they lose their drive, long term unemployment is just the next step, according to studies in the EU. Unfortunately, many teenagers and twenty-something college graduates do not find jobs right after leaving the education system.

EU Institutions and National Governments Tackle Youth Unemployment

Young people’s labor market performance has indeed improved significantly over the past few years. According to the European Commission, there are 2.3 million fewer young unemployed now than five years ago. Around 1.8 million young people started apprenticeships, education or other kinds of training. Youth unemployment had decreased from 24% in 2013 to 14% in 2019.

The significant decrease of EU youth unemployment is possible through a combination of EU and national governments’ efforts to fight this phenomenon with various measures. This includes the promotion of a life-cycle approach to work, encouraging lifelong learning, improving support to those seeking a job and free training programs.

The latest research shows that apprenticeship and traineeship programs help prepare young people for the labor market and build relevant skills. Coordinating social policies like education or youth engagement and economic policies like employment rates is hard but a balanced governmental approach. With support from the local business in different countries, the number of youth employment increases in recent years. New partnerships have been set up with social partners, youth services and youth organizations as well.

These efforts should work to tackle EU youth unemployment by helping students and young professionals build attractive resumes for businesses operating on the global labor market. Nowadays, finding a job is more challenging than ever. Global competition requires all kinds of skill-sets from newcomers. In addition, these programs are designed to reinforce youngsters’ positions at this entry point. Besides, NGO initiatives and partner organizations create platforms for online education. The platforms are for people to take specialized courses without the need to enroll in an official university program. It’s easier, faster and very practical. Usually, such NGOs cannot provide certificates or diplomas, but the good news is businesses don’t need one. If the young person shows skills and a can-do attitude, he/she is hired.

The Changing of European Higher Education

The European conservative format of higher education is also changing slowly. More universities invite businesspeople to the campuses. This way the students can get the chance to meet entrepreneurs with hands-on experience and learn in a more informal environment. This type of education is most popular in the U.S., while formal education in Europe is still lagging in this regard. But times are changing, dynamics of life, work and study are different, and all involved parties are adjusting. There is no doubt that universities should work hand in hand with businesses to ensure a prospective future for young people.

Olga Uzunova

Photo: Flickr

Ending Youth Unemployment in Africa
There is an issue of youth unemployment in Africa. Young people make up 60% of all unemployed people in Sub-Saharan Africa. It is also one of the continents with a changing age demographic from older to younger individuals. An added disconnect is that of those who are working, 82% of them are still in vulnerable employment situations. In addition, wages may not even be enough to survive. If Senegal can get some of the 50,000 talibes, mostly young boys who beg on the streets, then Senegal can continue being a leading economically driven country.

Aspyre Africa

Aspyre Africa is an organization that works in Senegal, specifically Saint-Louis, with young men and women to end youth unemployment in Africa. It is attempting to develop a robust, sustainable and replicable model of services and quality vocational training. As a result, it should be able to secure the futures of countless economically disadvantaged young people in Africa.

Aspyre originally emerged in 2014. It focuses on talibes who are boys on the street with very limited job opportunities due to a lack of formal training.

Aspyre Africa’s Actions

The organization has successfully trained 18 talibes between the ages of 15 to 25 in horticulture. After the initial training, Aspyre Africa continues to support the youth until they have a stable income through various agricultural pursuits. Aspyre is stepping up its assistance in the community by providing a social worker and a career advisor for vulnerable students and alumni at a government-run vocational training center. Also, additional money from the organization is going towards essential equipment and helping talibes set up their own businesses.

Sustainable Livelihoods Project

With the original cohort of 18 talibes having passed their 10-month vocational training at the center, Aspyre Africa began a new venture of constructing a chicken coop. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation provides funding for a project to provide chickens in Sub-Saharan Africa as an agricultural venture to be successful. Chickens can result in a $300 yearly income increase. Chickens are valuable to Sub-Saharan communities because they produce eggs that are an essential key to getting nutrients and protein.

Youth Entrepreneurs Project

The work in Senegal is the perfect example of the saying that it takes a village to raise a child. In this instance, raising loosely means supporting. Aspyre Africa has been able to support 18 talibes by partnering with other organizations in order to secure funding, build the center and chicken coop and train the youth. Through these partnerships, Aspyre has seen how sometimes it can be prohibitive to its ultimate goal of uplifting youth.

Starting out, Aspyre helped provide the training for agriculture and horticulture as well as funding for necessary equipment to end youth unemployment in Africa. After the first cohort of trainees, it saw that other organizations either provided training or financial support for participants to start a business. In the past two years, it has transitioned into implementing a program to provide support from the start of training to the start of an individual’s small business. By regularly following up and tailoring training to youth’s interests and skills, along with 2 hectares of land on loan for 2 years to start their business, Aspyre Africa has ensured that each participant can be successful with continued participation.

– Cassiday Moriarity
Photo: Flickr

Youth Unemployment in Senegal
Like many developing countries in Africa, Senegal’s economy is growing. In fact, in 2018, the country’s GDP increased by 6.766%. However, economic growth has not translated into more jobs for the younger generation, thus resulting in high youth unemployment. Young people either end up unemployed or in the informal job sector where wages are low. To solve the problem of youth unemployment in Senegal, the Senegalese government and NGOs are creating new policies and programs.

Youth and the Formal Job Sector

In 2019, Senegal’s population was over 16 million with 40% of the population younger than 15. More than 300,000 Senegalese youth enter the workforce each year. The formal sector in Senegal makes up between three to four percent of Senegal’s job market. As a result, college graduates struggle to find jobs relating to their field of study. When looking for formal jobs, graduates face many difficulties, including a lack of connections and a failure to meet the job qualifications. Youths also lack the knowledge of where to look for formal jobs.

Furthermore, according to employers, the education system does not meet the needs of the workforce because graduates do not have work experience (internships). The internships that youths do manage to get are often unpaid. This results in more difficulties for young people to sustain themselves while working. CNV International works with unions to make sure that interns are not being taken advantage of. Although the youth unemployment rate for ages between 15-24 has decreased from 13.2% in 2010 to 8.2% in 2019, Senegal still faces a problem of unemployment among youth.

Youth and the Informal Job Sector

When it becomes difficult to find employment, many Senegalese youth turn to the informal sector or start their own businesses. The informal sector is made up of businesses that are not registered and therefore do not pay taxes. For obtaining an informal job, social and personal relations play a more important role than a contractual agreement. Furthermore, informal jobs often tend not to provide employees with any form of social security or insurance, and are also fairly low-paying. Many informal jobs generate income that is less than Senegal’s minimum wage, according to Investisseurs & Partenaires.

Consequences of Youth Unemployment

The problem with youth unemployment is that it often leads to poverty, crime and even migration to other countries. In Senegal, many have left their villages to migrate to Europe. However, the path to Europe is dangerous and many die attempting to reach or cross the Mediterranean. To respond to the crisis of youth unemployment, the Senegalese government and NGOs have created programs to help young people find jobs.

Efforts to Reduce Youth Unemployment

In 2017, the Education Development Center and MasterCard Foundation started a 5-year long project to help teach students in both middle and high school. The project aims to teach students how to get a job as well as how to start a business. The program, known as APTE, helps provide internships, job placement, mentoring and coaching. Currently, the program works in 50 vocational education and training (TVET) schools and 200 middle schools (lower secondary), and has reached over 11,000 youths in the country.

To help youth entrepreneurs, the government created La Délégation Générale à l’Entreprenariat Rapide, a fund for entrepreneurs. The fund focuses on small financing, incubation funding, equity financing and low-interest loans. In the first wave of funding alone, the program received 140,000 applications. The fund has given money to multiple industries, including food, agriculture and digital/ICT.

With the help of the World Bank, the Senegalese government also created the Skills for Jobs and Competitiveness project to help reduce youth unemployment in Senegal. The project aims to train Senegalese youth in tourism, horticulture and poultry farming. Additionally, the Programme de Formation Ecole-Enterprise (School-Company Training Program) hopes to impact 10,000 young people by teaching them crucial job skills. The government is also working with companies through an apprenticeship program to train students while they are in school.

 

Although the youth unemployment rate in Senegal has decreased, it still remains a relevant issue. Programs by NGOs and the government are essential to providing job opportunities for young people in Senegal. These efforts also serve to reduce poverty and encourage youth to remain in Senegal rather than attempt the dangerous journey to Europe. If this focus on tackling youth unemployment continues, a new future for Senegal’s youth may be peeking through the horizon.

– Joshua Meribole 
Photo: Flickr