Youth Employability and Entrepreneurship

With almost 200 million people between the ages of 15 and 24, Africa has the highest concentration of young people in the world. Unemployment averages 30 percent across low-income countries in Africa, and the majority of the unemployed are youth. Some of the challenges that young people in Africa face include:

  • Lack of relevant curricula, leading to a mismatch between young people’s skills and market needs.
  • Variability in the quality of learning at educational institutions, including vocational training schools.
  • Lack of formal jobs, and difficulty starting and growing a business.
  • Lack of access to appropriate financial services, including capital and support for young entrepreneurs.
  • Regulatory and policy hurdles.

Our Youth Employability and Entrepreneurship initiative aims to equip young women and men with the skills and knowledge they need to access jobs or grow businesses, access financial services, and expand the economic opportunities that are available to them.

Youth Forward initiative

The Youth Forward initiative links young people to quality employment or entrepreneurship opportunities in the agricultural and construction sectors in Ghana and Uganda. This five-year partnership led by Mastercard Foundation, Overseas Development Institute, Global Communities, Solidaridad, NCBA CLUSA, and GOAL will reach more than 200,000 economically disadvantaged youth aged 15–24. The initiative uses an approach that combines market-relevant skills training, mentorship, internships, and access to financial services to help young people better their lives, transition to sustainable livelihoods, and contribute to social and economic change.

Youth Forward demonstrates how working with partners from multiple sectors can lead to greater impact and influence policymakers and others to adopt and support successful youth employment and entrepreneurship models.

Youth Think Tank

The Youth Think Tank (YTT) is a research group made up of young people from the Foundation’s networks. In partnership with Restless Development, it trains and mentors young people to conduct research, collect evidence, and document youth needs, challenges, and aspirations. Each year, a new cohort conducts research in their communities and makes recommendations based on their findings. Research is focused on key issues that affect youth. The YTT was launched in 2012, and since then, it has grown to 28 researchers from seven countries across the continent.