Whitney van Schyndel l Palladium - Jul 12 2023
Final Call: Challenge Fund for Youth Employment is Looking for Solutions to Create, Match, or Improve Jobs for Youth

The Challenge Fund for Youth Employment (CFYE) is calling for solutions to create, match, or improve jobs for youth in Egypt, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, and Senegal. The CFYE is a 7-year flagship initiative by the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and managed by Palladium, Randstad, and VSO.

Youth unemployment is a significant challenge in Africa with approximately 30% of young people up to age 35 unable to find work. The situation is particularly prevalent in sub-Saharan Africa, where the number rises to nearly 40%, leading to increased poverty, social unrest, and limited opportunities for economic growth.

The CFYE is working to create a prosperous future for 230,000 young women and men in the Middle East, North Africa, Sahel & West Africa, and Horn of Africa.

To help reach that goal, the private sector, civil society, and knowledge institutions are now invited to submit proposals for initiatives to address specific challenges framed around creating scalable solutions for more and better jobs for youth. Solutions should be built around integrated approaches designed to bridge the mismatch between the demand for high-quality jobs and the supply of skilled labour. In addition, they must be aligned with the aspirations of young women and men in the regions.

There have been successful partnerships in the past, such as Balloon Ventures, which supports high potential small businesses with investment and business support to build management practices and create jobs in Uganda. With CFYE’s support, Balloon invested in 78 small and growing businesses, and contributed to creating 217 new jobs and improving 1124 jobs through improved wages, working conditions, and job security. The majority of these jobs (76%) were for youth aged 15-35, of which 41% were for young women.

Currently, the total CFYE portfolio accounts for 180,000 jobs for youth to be created, matched, or improved, spanning sectors from digital and green jobs to logistics. Once projects are selected for implementation, the CFYE team will be available to provide tailored technical support to help projects achieve the best possible results.

This is the sixth and final Call for Solutions launched by the CFYE, and Team Leader Joost Verwilghen is excited by the opportunity to strengthen the initiative’s portfolio across the target countries. “We’re building on the youth’s aspirations to find employment in the Digital and Green sectors whilst aligning with the renewed policy priorities of the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs,” he explains.

In the coming years, the Netherlands plan to invest more in the combination of foreign trade and development cooperation. The Policy Document for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation: Do what we do best serves as one of the backbones for CFYE’s final round. The policy document aligns with the trends from the current CFYE portfolio in the green and digital sectors, but exact implementation and eligibility will differ per country. 

It’s no longer enough for businesses to attract young employees with the promise of in-office perks or flashy benefits. There’s a need for thoughtful onboarding, upskilling, and training that prepare young people for careers with longevity, and organisations looking to create those environments are not only setting themselves up for greater success in the long term, contributing to the success of the workforce of the future.

How to apply: Interested organisations are invited to submit a concept note through the CFYE website. Be sure to check out the specific guidelines and eligibility criteria per country: Egypt, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, and Senegal. The deadline for applications is September 4, 2023.