Promoting youth engagement in innovation and entrepreneurship in the Gaza Strip
The economic empowerment programme’s goal is to secure entrepreneurial opportunities and sustainable employment for women, men and youth. The world needs 600 million new jobs by 2030 just to sustain the current level of employment, not accounting for current day unemployment levels. 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.
By providing access to quality inputs, access to capital, new technologies and knowledge, and in some cases strengthened community structures, 18,500 rights-holders were able to establish enterprises, generating income and improving living conditions for themselves and their families in 2018. The enterprises generated increased income, such as in Somalia, where 81% (1,302) of the 1,612 supported rights-holders reported increased income over the last three years due to access to capital and increased business skills.
In 2018, NCA and its partners facilitated access to affordable quality inputs boosting yields significantly. NCA has supported value addition of raw materials through processing or packaging, leading to increased profits for rights holders. This includes a wide range of products such as sunflower and sesame oil, processed fruits, seafood packaged and stored properly, improved livestock production through animal fattening and veterinary services, sausage and confectionary production and carpet weaving. For example, in Afghanistan 2,111 targeted entrepreneurs (1,785 women) increased their profit by USD 51 per month over the last three years. To put this into context, the average monthly income in Afghanistan is USD 47.
NCA identified and worked systematically to address a number of market barriers, many which were similar across locations and countries. These included the lack of price information and negotiating power of rights holders, difficulties in getting products to the market, lack of linkages to market actors, cultural barriers, and poor production capacity and quality. In Burundi, a WhatsApp group enabled entrepreneurs to share market and price information resulting in participants gaining access to new markets to sell products and to buy inputs and raw material at fair prices.
To address youth unemployment, NCA supports vocational education for young women and men. 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, approximately 70% of the students were employed or self-employed 12 months after graduation. In addition to training young women and men, NCA and its local partners built partnerships with the private sector to create opportunities for internships and jobs. NCA also worked in close collaboration with national governments and the private sector to build or improve market relevant curriculums.
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. 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.