Partnering to Scale Opportunities for Youth Employment

The Foundation is committed to collaboration when tackling the biggest challenges, especially when it comes to finding solutions for youth economic opportunities in Africa. This is why we are celebrating a key milestone for a project the Foundation co-created with SNV Netherlands Development Organization, called Opportunities for Youth Employment (OYE).  The OYE project has been recognized by The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) as an innovative and successful model to collaborate on and expand.

The Opportunities for Youth Employment (OYE) project improves livelihoods in agriculture and renewable energy (including biogas, solar energy and low-cost, energy-saving cooking stoves) for economically disadvantaged, out-of-school rural young people in Tanzania, Rwanda and Mozambique. It provides employment skills, links to employment opportunities and access to financial services to support youth enterprises in renewable energy and agriculture. The project directly engages employers, the private sector, governments and financial services providers to ensure that young people develop skills that employers seek, matching them with concrete economic opportunities, so that they can gain employment or start their own businesses.

After three years of implementation, the OYE project is well on its way to reaching an initial target of 20,500 youth. As of March 2016, 13,407 youth have enrolled in the project, with 12,403 completing life, business and technical skills training in the agriculture or renewable energy sectors.  More than 72 percent (8,945) of youth who have completed the training have transitioned into secure employment or started their own businesses. In Tanzania, 82 percent of young people who completed training in the OYE project transitioned to employment or entrepreneurship.

The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) has committed US $4.7 million as a contribution to the OYE project in rural Tanzania. Through this contribution, SDC recognizes the OYE project as an innovative, holistic and practical approach to youth employment that can be scaled to increase overall reach. SDC also recognizes OYE’s approach in its engagement with the private sector, local stakeholders and implementing partners.

SDC had completed an inventory of youth employment projects in Tanzania and was interested in the OYE project based on the following aspects:

  • Focuses on expanding economic opportunities to rural youth.
  • Takes a very practical approach with emphasis on skills development that is relevant for market needs.
  • Sets out the complete pathway from basic skills training to access to employment, self-employment and enterprise development.
  • Engages local implementing partners with a strategic objective to increase their capacity to promote market-relevant skills development for young people.
  • Includes learning and knowledge development as a core aspect of the project.
  • Has a dynamic team that espouses energy, creativity, flexibility and responsiveness to youth ambitions and market opportunities.

While aligning with the Foundation’s Youth Livelihoods strategy and adhering to the structure of the OYE project, SDC will expand the project to two additional regions in rural Tanzania, reaching an additional 6,550 youth, of whom 5,565 are expected to be employed or self-employed by the end of the project.

With SDC’s partnership, the OYE project will also explore youth employment opportunities in the water and sanitation sector, in addition to existing linkages to the agricultural and renewable energy sectors.

After three years of its implementation phase, this is an exciting development for the OYE project and great opportunity for The MasterCard Foundation and SNV to join forces with a key player and influencer in the development community and increase the project’s impact.

Alemayehu Konde Koira is Senior Program Manager, Youth Livelihoods at The MasterCard Foundation, Roy van der Drift is Programme Manager, Opportunities for Youth Employment, SNV Netherlands Development Organisation


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