The European Business Council for Africa

In June and July of this year, an African Development Bank technical review committee approved eight project proposals to receive funding in an important milestone for its Jobs for Youth in Africa Strategy. Approved proposals will receive grant funding of more than $7.3 million to operationalize their activities, creating several new enterprises and an estimated 20,000 jobs for youth across the continent.

Several of the approved proposals were submitted in response to a call from the Human Capital, Youth and Skills Development Department (AHHD) through the Youth Entrepreneurship and Innovation Multi-Donor Trust Fund late last year. Bank offices, complexes and departments from across regional member countries submitted nearly 24 proposals for committee review. 

Themes submitted included capacity building for entrepreneurs, climate change, gender, affordable housing, food security, migration and textiles, with the common thread of creating decent jobs for young women and men.

“The diverse range of themes and interests demonstrates the degree that our Bank peers understand that creating jobs for Africa’s growing youth population is a cross-cutting issue to be factored into operations across the continent,” said Martha Phiri, Director of the Bank’s Human Capital, Youth and Skills Department. “The Youth Entrepreneurship and Innovation Multi-Donor Trust Fund is increasingly viewed as a destination resource for financing our scale up efforts to create decent jobs for young women and men,” she added.  

The Jobs for Youth in Africa Strategy calls for the integration of jobs and skills for youth across Bank operations to maximize the impact on increasing employment opportunities. It specifically mandates embedding youth employment into Bank plans, projects, staff training and systems, and increasing the Bank’s influence and support in regional member countries. One of the projects approved is leveraging technical collaboration with the International Labor Organization to develop the Bank’s employment marker.

Approved projects include business development support for agricultural entrepreneurs selling online in Malawi and Zimbabwe, training to help staff members of Libya’s Ministry of Labour better meet the needs of young entrepreneurs including women and people living with disabilities, an online training and accelerator program for entrepreneurs in the textile, apparel and accessories industries, and an initiative to boost job creation in climate change adaptation and resilience in Egypt, Ghana, Mali, Nigeria, Guinea, Morocco, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Seychelles, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Chad, Gabon and South Africa.

The Youth Entrepreneurship and Innovation Multi-Donor Trust Fund provides project preparation and co-financing for Bank projects and places great emphasis on employability, entrepreneurship and job creation through enterprise and value chain development. The Fund has also supported countries that implement policies conducive to private sector development and youth employment. Also in line with the Bank’s commitments under the fifteenth replenishment of the African Development Fund–the concessional window of the African Development Bank Group–the call for project proposals reflects the Human Capital, Youth and Skills Development Department’s strategic intent to leverage and integrate youth employment and employability into the Bank’s operations in African Development Fund countries.

Launched in November 2017, the Fund promotes the creation of sustainable jobs for young Africans by equipping youth and women-led startups, as well as micro, small and medium enterprises with the skills, financial support and enabling environments to run bankable businesses.