Economic Empowerment

Overall Goal: The goal of the Economic Empowerment programme is to secure entrepreneurial opportunities and sustainable employment for women, men and youth.

Problem analysis: The world needs 600 million new jobs by 2030 just to sustain the current level of employment, not accounting for current day unemployment levels17. A key challenge is high unemployment among youth, who often lack market relevant skills to obtain and maintain employment. Most poor rural communities produce raw materials and products with limited value addition, therefore missing out on the main profit and having limited control over the value chain of their products. They often lack access to markets, capital, quality production inputs, energy and technology.


Implementing Countries

Our results

Outcome 1

Women, men and youth gained and maintained employment

NCA’s approach to vocational training is not only to obtain an education, but also to ensure that graduates are absorbed by the job market or able to be self-employed. Of the students trained for the period 2016-2018, an average of 70% of the students were employed or self-employed 12 months after graduation.

Outcome 2

Women, men and youth established micro- or small enterprises

By providing access to quality inputs, access to capital, new technologies and knowledge, and in some cases strengthened community structures, 31,080 rights holders were able to establish enterprises, generating income and improving living conditions for themselves and their families during the period 2016–2018.

Outcome 3

Women, men and youth scaled up existing enterprises

Although only one of NCA’s countries selected this outcome, reflecting the challenges in rolling out a new programme, the results were excellent for the period 2016-2018, reaching 482% more rights holders than originally targeted. 

Outcome 4

Women, men and youth increased profits by value chain development

During 2016-2018, NCA and its partners facilitated access to affordable quality inputs boosting yields significantly, common for which is that they derive from a value chain approach where market demands are the core. Tanzania has for example benefited from this through the introduction of “Micro Investing” which is leading to increased production and profit. 

Outcome 5

Women, men and youth gained access to local or domestic markets

During the period 2016-2018, NCA identified and worked systematically to address a number of market barriers, many which were general and similar across locations and countries, with 19,964 rights holders securing access to markets. 

Key innovations from the programme area

Aiming to test an innovative collaboration model and digital learning tools, the Norwegian company Bright Products and NCA implemented the project “Education4Sustainability” in Burundi and Somalia, together with partners (GVTC in Somalia and OPDE in Burundi). Promising new technologies were tested: solar products from BRIGHT, pay-as-you-go technology by Angaza, a digital learning app by Leap Learning and a financial literacy game from Design without Borders. The pilot demonstrated the value of partnerships between the private sector and NGOs by stimulating local economic activities and skills.

Rights holders (389) obtained access to entrepreneurial and technical skills, finance and opportunities to access quality solar products. Job opportunities were created as 27 rights holders operated as local solar lamp sales agents, and solar lamps enabled local businesses to increase their opening hours at night. Households investing in solar home systems improved their living conditions through improved health, security, education and more cost-efficient sources of light. An interesting finding was that the bigger home systems that NCA had thought would be too expensive (around NOK 1,000) were the most popular products. One of the positive outcomes was the positive collaboration with the Government in Somalia. The Ministry of Education (Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Department) found the digital learning solutions valuable and has given approval to integrate Education Apps in TVET curriculum. The project was funded by Innovation Norway, NCA’s Norad cooperation agreement and NCA’s non-earmarked funds.

Lessons Learned and Adaptation

The Economic Empowerment programme was new in 2016 when NCA decided to move from traditional livelihood programming to working towards job and income creation, and applying value chain and marked based approaches. The last three years have been a learning process for all the countries and partners involved. A number of approaches and models were contextualised and tested, resulting in a number of good results that could be more targeted and scaled up for greater impact. In the next programme period, NCA will focus on rolling out and scaling up the models that have performed well, such as Micro Investment, NCA’s market based vocational training model, and technological and programmatic innovation.

Climate change is a harsh reality in most programme locations and negatively affecting food production, income opportunities and the general resilience of the communities NCA supports. As a result, various climate resilience building activities have been introduced. The lesson learned is that programmes need to factor in climate change risk mitigation, while recognising that economically empowered rights holders are more robust to tackle climate change and other shocks. NCA will systematically integrate climate smart practices and resilience building in future Economic Empowerment programming.

In Zambia, a target was set for establishing formal business contracts, which was not achieved mainly because the target NCA Zambia set was too rigid. To enter into a formal contract the parties need to be legal entities, something the rights holder groups were not, and therefore the target was not achieved. A lesson learned is that gaining access to markets may not necessarily require formal business contracts. This was evident from monitoring that indicated that all rights holders that established micro enterprises with support from the programme were able to sell their commodities without formal contracts. The results were therefore in fact good, but the indicator did not reflect this and will have to be adapted accordingly in the future.

Results case

Micro Investing in Tanzania

Affordable, good quality inputs combined with practical knowhow are fundamental to add value to production processes.