SOS Kinderdorf International

Investing in Africa’s Youth: Engage, Empower, Employ

Lead Organization

SOS Kinderdorf International

Innsbruck, Tirol, Austria

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To learn more about – or provide significant funding to – this project, please contact Lever for Change.

Project Summary

Nearly one-third of the over 226 million youth (ages 15-24) in Africa are unemployed, another one-third are underemployed [1]. These high rates contribute to poverty, fuel migration out of the region, and negatively impact political stability and sustainable economic development. Our project harnesses the skills, ambitions, and talents of vulnerable young men and women without adequate parental care who have limited career opportunities, creating a pool of qualified, skilled and experienced youth. We provide young entrepreneurs with start-up capital, and support existing small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in order to strengthen local economies and create decent jobs. Our project also strengthens existing corporate relationships and seeks new private partnerships that provide relevant internships and entry-level opportunities for youth. Finally, the project provides a digital platform for members to access a multitude of services and opportunities, connecting youth in nine African countries and empowering them to advocate for the their rights.

Problem Statement

The majority of youth in Africa’s rapidly growing population do not have stable employment opportunities and are engaged in low-paid, menial, or insecure jobs. One-third are unemployed. This problem exists because job creation has not matched the number of graduates, and where jobs do exist, skilled labor is lacking. The consequences of youth unemployment and underemployment in the region are pernicious: a low standard of living, multi-generational poverty, increased outmigration, and conflict and instability. Above all, youth unemployment represents a failure to capitalize on the continent’s greatest assets: its large and growing population of talented young people.Youth without adequate parental care are particularly affected by this problem, often unable to gain the necessary skills to obtain decent jobs through training or higher education, or to access social networks that support finding decent work. This is particularly problematic for young women, who often do not have the same access to education and training as their male peers, depriving them of their rights and the ability to be independent, including the pursuit of formal employment. This perpetuates a cycle of gender inequality.Inadequate investment in young people limits their ability to reach their full potential. Targeted skills development provides a lifetime of benefit for youth and the economy. Youth empowerment strategies designed to engage young people ensure that lasting social and political change is achieved. Finally, innovative ideas that create decent jobs and employ youth support increased productivity and stronger, more inclusive growth and development across the continent.

Solution Overview

Our project will provide training, support job creation and entrepreneurship, and provide online and physical space for pan-African exchange on youth employability topics. The vision of the project is to create over 100,000 new jobs through entrepreneurship and employment, and reach 300,000 young Africans across nine countries by driving sustainable growth and empowering youth to realize their full potential. Sustainable job creation for vulnerable youth, especially those without adequate parental care, is a question of both supply and demand: young people must have both the soft and hard skills necessary for employment, and companies must have the capacity and actual need to employ more people. Our solution addresses both sides of this coin by increasing the number of skilled youth and the number of jobs available to them.Our progress will be measured by the number of participants who have completed training programs, the number of jobs created by our entrepreneurs, and the number of internships and entry-level job opportunities for youth created by our partners. Furthermore, we will continue to liaise with governments to improve the situation of youth in the countries where we work, resulting in measurable improvements to youth policy and the ease of doing business. Our results are proven: In the four countries where our solutions are currently deployed, youth employability projects are successful in reaching thousands of vulnerable youth. With your support, we can work together with our partners to turn a demographic time bomb into an economic advantage for youth across Africa.

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Project Funders

  • Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs 2016 - 2019
  • DPDDHL 2016 - 2019
  • AkzoNobel 2017 - 2019

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