At SNV, we facilitate linkages between the labour market and skilled young women and men to stimulate employment and entrepreneurship opportunities. Our Youth Employment and Entrepreneurship (YEE) approach is strategically contextualised to provide out-of-school, underprivileged, underemployed and unemployed young women and men with the tools, skills and networks that will enable them to identify enterprise development and employment opportunities within the agri-food, energy, and water sectors.
Guided by SDG 8, we lever our expertise in green and digitally enabled jobs, formal and informal market engagement, system change, and gender equality and social inclusion to provide vocational training, on-the-job learning, and concrete employment opportunities for young people. We also help young people to fulfill their entrepreneurial aspirations by developing their skills and knowledge through training, facilitating access to finance and markets, and by coaching them in leadership and business skills.
According to the ILO, the global youth unemployment rate was estimated at 15.6 per cent in 2021, more than three times the adult rate. Globally, in 2021 some 75 million young people were unemployed, 408 million were in employment, and 732 million were out of the labour force. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the numerous labour market challenges facing young people since early 2020.
While youth un- and under- employment can partly be attributed to limited work experience, there are also major structural barriers preventing young people from entering the labour market including economic structures, labour markets policies, access to credit and more. These challenges are compounded for vulnerable groups such as those living in rural areas and fragile contexts, women, persons with disabilities, and socially excluded groups.
SNV addresses these barriers with a responsive market systems approach that integrates climate smart solutions and considers gender equality and social inclusion issues, to enable markets to function more equitably and sustainably, and to provide an environment where young people can thrive.
To achieve scale and make a lasting impact and to enable young people optimising on opportunities as entrepreneurs and innovators and build resilience, SNV is increasingly emphasising an enterprise development pathway for youth led businesses with medium to high growth potential. This work focuses on incubating and accelerating these businesses by linking them to sustainable markets, providing tailored business development support services, deepening partnerships with other eco-system actors including enterprise support organisations, technical and vocational education and training institutes, and the private sector. Through these strategies, we ensure that youth led businesses can grow and create opportunities for others while also kick-starting markets in the agri-food, energy, and water sectors.
The YEE approach uses the push-match-pull-enable approach to improve the employability and entrepreneurship capabilities of youth:
- Equitable entrepreneurial eco-system (Enable): SNV collaborates with ecosystem actors to contribute and influence policy environments improving the enabling environment for youth led enterprises and decent employment for young wage earners. The portfolio seeks to generate evidence that can contribute to an enabling environment for youth employment and youth-friendly policy implementation. Opportunities are created and platforms facilitated to stimulate direct dialogue and engagement between young people and key policy actors where lessons can be shared, and policy solutions developed.
- Market systems development (Pull): The YEE Product is developed based on (potential) private sector engagement where the informal sector is the most important creator of youth employment. The pull stage also includes continuing interaction with private sector companies to sustain the prospect of developing working and profitable Business to Business (B2B) relationships with young women and men. YEE also engages with the informal sector which provides opportunity, flexibility and income diversification opportunities for young entrepreneurs and wage earners. SNV will invest in and partner with MSMEs and cooperatives who have lower barriers to entry for women and other vulnerable groups, and who commit to hire or support young women or men.
- Strengthened productive and financial resilience (Match): Each intervention has a ‘match’ component for the identification of opportunities for youth employment and entrepreneurship in select sectors and value chains. These opportunities will be GESI-responsive, meet youth aspirations and ambitions, and aligned with market-demand and the potential 'supply' of training, and coaching providers. SNV has adapted the YEE ‘match’ approach to fragile contexts where there are thinner markets to support income generation, food security and more resilient communities.
- Individual and institutional capacity strengthening (Push): Young women and men acquire market-oriented employability and entrepreneurship skills. YEE promotes peer-to-peer learning and role models for inspiration and strengthening positive networking, leadership and relationships among young people, especially young women. The YEE approach goes beyond skills training and towards mainstreaming skills in training and market systems. The additional “Match” and “Pull” pathways contribute to sustainable employment and entrepreneurship opportunities with private and public sector firms.
The YEE approach builds on the Opportunities for Youth Employment (OYE) footprint, an approach that has been implemented during the past 10 years across several countries where SNV operates and with the support of donors like Mastercard Foundation, SDC, SIDA, The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, and the European Union, amongst other key partners.
Building on our experience with OYE, we will invest in the development of an enabling environment that is conducive for youth to develop and grow their enterprises and access appropriate financial services, formal and informal markets, information, and sustainable support structures.
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