Village Enterprise
There are a plethora of organizations with eradicating global poverty at its center. Many focus on specific continents as there are many poverty-stricken countries across these areas. Africa is one of many continents in need of help. One in three Africans, 422 million people, live below the global poverty line and represent more than 70% of the world’s poorest people. On the bright side, one organization making a tangible difference in these numbers is Village Enterprise. Village Enterprise fights poverty in Africa in multiple ways.

Village Enterprise started in 1987 and is working towards ending poverty in East Africa through various methodologies. It has transformed over 1 million lives throughout its establishment. Its focus is eradication through entrepreneurship and innovation with a focus on women, rural youth and refugees. These three categories tend to be the most vulnerable groups with the least resources for success.

Facts About Village Enterprise

The Village Enterprise Graduation program is the primary way they aid Africa. It started over 48,000 businesses and trained over 185,000 East Africans through its program. It targets individuals who have no prior business experience, live on less than US$1.90 a day and are unable to provide for their basic needs.

Village Enterprise fights poverty in Africa by providing groups of three entrepreneurs with cash as seed capital, training and mentoring. These groups filter into Business Savings Groups (BSGSs) of 10. This allows them further access to growth capital, safe savings and social capital. These businesses have included farming, restaurants, beekeeping and small retail stores. Additionally, studies have shown that this program has led to increased consumption, assets and income, and improved nutrition and well-being.

Women Empowerment in Africa

One of its main focuses is empowering women. In fact, 75% of its business owners are women, which is essential because seven out of 10 of the world’s hungry are women. Additionally, in East Africa, women are more likely to be illiterate, underpaid and provided with food than men.

However, with the help of Village Enterprise, financially-empowered women can prioritize these areas to benefit their families. They can do this to benefit their communities as well. The Village Enterprise program analyses show that households with female participants reported increased standing in the city and subjective well-being. This includes improved mental health and happiness, which all work towards ending global poverty.

Empowerment for the Youth of Africa

Regarding empowering the rural youth, over 75% of East Africa’s population is younger than 35. Therefore, investing in youth unlocks economic opportunities in the future. Most rural youths are unemployed because of a few economic opportunities.

By stepping up in places like Kitgum, Uganda, the rural youth can start providing for themselves and their family. Village Enterprise adapted its Graduation program for youth. This created the Mastercard Foundation-funded DYNAMIC (Driving Youth-led New Agribusiness and Microenterprise). It allows children to have agricultural opportunities for economic activity.

Providing Help for Refugees

Finally, Village Enterprise fights poverty by focusing on empowering refugees through another adaptation of its Graduation program. The refugee population in Uganda is at nearly 1.5 million people, so helping the community economically is vital in Africa.

It worked with other organizations to conduct assessments for its programming in the West Nile refugee settlements of Bidi Bidi, Rhino Camp and Palorinya. Following these assessments, it paired refugees with community members to small businesses. Doing this promotes resilience and reduces aid alliance, improving outcomes for the refugees.

Overall, the work of Village Enterprise is inspiring. It demonstrates how vital aid is for other countries, and how a little help goes a long way. By enabling opportunities for economic growth, Village Enterprise has begun a long-standing economic boost for many people in East Africa. With expansion across the continent, it can continue towards its mission of ending global poverty.

Kiana Powers
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

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

freedom from hunger
As the Mexican economy continues to recover from the most recent recession, social concerns still remain.

Specifically, low wages, underemployment and inequitable income distribution are the causes of suffering in the impoverished southern states.

According to the Ministry of Social Development, 54% of all Mexicans live in poverty. Poverty standards in Mexico equate to $4 per day. However, 32% of the population lives on $2.50, and 24% live on less than $2.00. Characteristics of poverty include the lack of access to basic human needs such as nutrition, clean

Characteristics of poverty include the lack of access to basic human needs such as nutrition, clean water and shelter.

In 2005, nonprofit organization, Freedom from Hunger created Alcance. The organization’s principal focus is to assist financial institutions to integrate education and health protection services that specifically address women and their families.

Alcance works in conjunction with the Mexican government to coordinate microfinance networks. The purpose of these networks is to provide financial education and to equip financial institutions to disseminate funds.

As of 2014, Alcance launched a Saving for Change programs in two Mexican states where traditional microfinance has not reached the rural communities of the chronically poor.

The aim is to help institutions successfully manage social objectives and increase their ability to provide high quality, client-responsive services.

Organizations such as Mastercard also help create programs as global partners. The current program they fund will develop, test and document innovations in the integration of financial services. In addition, education will be provided for youth between the ages of 13 and 24 in Mali and Ecuador.

The program’s focus is to build a range of microfinance providers to offer products and services for youth living in poverty. The goal is to utilize these services to guide youth financially, in order to increase options for their future.

Youth participants’ parents and community leaders will be educated on how to be supportive of youth in ascertaining financial education building.

Programs to address education, health care, social security, quality of basic services in the household and income and social cohesion are necessities in helping to address the nation’s poverty.

Erika Wright

Sources: Freedom from Hunger, The Mastercard Foundation