Join Us for the Apply It! Technology Webinar Series:
Making Cents International’s Collaborative Learning and Action Institute has been busy this fall, hosting a series of webinars designed to help practitioners design more scalable and sustainable youth programs. Didn’t make it to a webinar you really wanted to attend? We’ve recorded each webinar and posted it on our webinar page. Check them out, and while you’re there, RSVP for one of the upcoming webinars:
Innovations Journal – Special Edition on Youth Economic Opportunities
This youth-focused double issue is the product of a shared passion to improve livelihoods and economic opportunities among the world’s 1.8 billion youth. The publication is particularly timely given the increased focus being given to programming, funding, and research on the contributions of young people in a time of economic volatility. As the economy shows signs of recovery, the International Labor Organization reports that the global rate of youth unemployment hovers around 13%, just below the jobless rate at the peak of the crisis—this still represents an estimated 73 million young people. Despite staggering unemployment, our concern is not the scale of the problem. Instead, we are encouraged by the scale of the opportunity before us.
With the support and collaboration of the Citi Foundation, Making Cents International is leveraging this Innovations issue as well as the 2013 Youth Economic Opportunities Conference, funder meetings, “Apply It!” webinars, blogs, crowd-sourced solution events, and other tools to engage a global network of partners to galvanize dialog, collaboration, and knowledge-building toward a collective global agenda for youth. Through its Collaborative Learning and Action Institute (Co-Lab), Making Cents will promote and improve economic opportunities for youth around the world.
This collection of analyses, research, and remarkable stories is a part of our new vision. In searching for authors, we weren’t searching for all the answers. We looked across diverse sectors for authors who could connect disparate concepts, innovations, theories, stories, or research results that move the youth economic opportunities agenda forward. Click here to download the entire journal or individual articles for free.
In late July, Making Cents International’s Collaborative Learning and Action Institute (Co-Lab) co-hosted a webinar with the Enterprise Uganda Foundation (EUF). A virtual full-house of attendees joined a lively discussion with presenters Chalres Ocici and Charles George Oumo of EUF. The webinar focused on EUF’s Business and Enterprise Setup Tool, or BEST, which is successfully improving and expanding youth job creation, workforce development, employability and entrepreneurship in Uganda.
Rather than presenting the format and content of the tool, the presenters focused on what makes their tool successful. Participants in the webinar increased their understanding of mental barriers and negative attitudes towards youth entrepreneurship. EUF outlined five primary barriers:
1. Misunderstanding of the purpose of education: Education is most often viewed narrowly as a means to getting an office job.
2. Public opinion and stigma: These include misconceptions about education level and business ownership and family and peer pressure to not work in certain sectors
3. Start-up Capital: Most people look for external financing, when there are six other sources of financing available
4. Business Planning: Business plans tend to get over-blown and over-detailed – don’t discourage new business owners by requiring too much. Don’t make business planning be a barrier, but a key to enter the market.
5. Attitude and Mindset Change: Fear of failure is a huge barrier to potential entrepreneurs; outline the risks in a clear way so that it is easy to evaluate odds for success. A winning mindset is achieve through repeated positive actions.
The presenters went on to discuss the philosophy behind BEST, and how to implement and evaluate youth entrepreneurship programs based on the BEST model. Around 70% of EUF’s trainees start a business within 90 days – a very impressive feat. It’s not however, too complicated, says Ocici. “If your brain works, this tool will work.”
By David Feige from Making Cents International, 2013
On June 13, I represented Making Cents at the USAID Agrilinks #AskAg Twitter chat on youth employment in agriculture. Alongside rural, agriculture, and youth experts from USAID, Winrock International,and the International Food Policy Research Institute, a number of other participants from the Twittersphere contributed to a lively discussion on youth and their role in agriculture. In addition to the guiding questions we prepared in advance, we tackled a series of challenging, yet very relevant, questions from around the world, many informed by direct experience in the field.
While we might not have solved any global issues in that hour and thirty minutes, it did allow us to identify issues and trends that the youth economic opportunities sector will be challenged with in the coming years. The following are some themes, questions, and thoughts that were brought up during the Twitter chat that I think merit highlighting:
@agrilinks Urban youth consider agric as a job for rural youth (male) who fail to complete school. #AskAg — Erasmus Mweene (@ErasmusMweene)
@agrilinks, youth smallholder producers are attracted to upgraded niche products with higher margins and shorter production cycles #AskAg — Rachel Blum (@rrblum)
#askag In #Africa, most #rural#youth don't have elementary ed: need for literacy, numeracy, ability to use #IT — ifpri (@ifpri)
@christyolenik #askag financial literacy/business; life skills & understanding value & supply chain are key but also new techologies & coop — Carol Olaughlin (@cbmo46)
#askaf #4 girls/women need exposure to math/sciene, contact with business women/models, safe spaces, savings & asset dev, life skills — Carol Olaughlin (@cbmo46)
#AskAg mentoring especially important for young women's participation along the ag value chain — Rachel Blum (@rrblum)
#AskAg Q5: @agrilinks innovative, responsive to change. Their opinions should be considered & respected in addressing new challenges of agri. — Kristyn NanlalKhetia (@kaenkay)
#AskAg A5 #Youth often willing to try new things (ie switching from traditional crops to more profitable options) that older farmers aren’t.— David Feige (@DavidFeigeAg)
Despite the numerous challenges that presented themselves during the chat, a consensus appears to be emerging around some common lessons we’ve learned about how youth can better be engaged in agriculture. Participants recognized agriculture as a valuable source of youth employment in rural areas; although young people’s aspirations are generally more consistent with post-harvest and off-farm opportunities than on-farm activities. Sustainable integration of young people into agriculture will only happen when value chain actors recognize that young people bring important attitudes, energy, and skills important for upgrading value chains; and that youth inclusion and value chain competitiveness are not mutually exclusive goals but can in fact be mutually reinforcing.
Making Cents International is pleased to partner with DAI to implement a new, USAID-funded five-year effort to support food security in Haiti. The USAID Haiti Feed the Future: Northern Corridor (FTFN) project will catalyze inclusive and sustainable economic growth in the potentially highly productive agricultural area in Northern Haiti. This project is important and timely; currently, more than 60 percent of the Haitian population is reliant on agriculture for income. Agricultural productivity, however, has steadily declined for 50 years, and the sector no longer generates jobs and income to support Haiti’s rural population. Moreover, population growth results in 2 percent annual increases in food demand, while food production grows only 0.4 percent annually, creating dependence on imports and causing a net reduction in per capita food consumption. The resulting poverty, food insecurity, urban migration, and malnutrition threaten to reinforce Haiti’s status as the poorest in the Western hemisphere.
Under FTFN, Making Cents is working to increase productivity and strengthen relationships in agricultural value chains through business capacity building of local partners, including micro, small, medium, and large enterprises and small holder farmers. This capacity building fulfills the spirit of the USAID/Forward initiative, as it identifies and prepares Haitian agri-business partners and leaders to contribute to the country’s ongoing development needs.
In addition, Making Cents is working to ensure that women and vulnerable populations are present and active in targeted value chains. After performing a comprehensive agriculture gender analysis, Making Cents will ensure that women have equitable access to FTFN resources, will develop a strategy to maximize women’s inclusion in key farmer governance bodies, and will design and deliver gender-related capacity building activities.
Finally, Making Cents will develop nutrition education and messaging tools to effectively integrate nutrition into the overall capacity building program. This is important, as alarmingly high rates of malnutrition are resulting in stunting, wasting, and extreme weight loss. The burden of hunger and malnutrition is heavy in Haiti; 40 percent of households are undernourished and 30 percent of children suffer from chronic malnutrition. To counter these trends, Making Cents is designing nutrition and hygiene messages, with a focus on nutrition counseling for pregnant women and new mothers, to be delivered through community health workers, training specialists, and agricultural extension agents.
You can now officially register for the 2013 Global Youth Economic Opportunities Conference to be held in Washington, DC, September 10-12. The 7th annual conference is the premier learning event for practitioners, funders, private sector companies, researchers, educators and youth leaders working to increase and improve economic opportunities for young people. Participants will share lessons learned, promising practices, and innovative ideas through technical workshops, engaging plenary sessions, and interactive networking.
The 2013 Global Youth Economic Opportunities Conference will contain a Spotlight on Rural Youth and a Spotlight on Technology. The learning agenda will focus significantly on these topic areas through the conference's five learning tracks.
How can we better link rural youth to promising, sustainable economic opportunities? Through the Spotlight on Rural Youth, join us in exploring what young people outside of urban centers need to succeed as entrepreneurs and employees.
The Spotlight on Technology has been brought back by popular demand as stakeholders within our field continue to seek concrete examples of how technology is being used effectively in programming, and how organizations are effectively supporting young people in their efforts to start a business or get a job in growth-oriented technology sectors.
The five learning tracks include:
Interested in being a sponsor of the conference? Looking to share your knowledge as one of our speakers? For more information on all the opportunities available to you and your organization, please contact email@example.com.
Rural poverty is endemic in most of the MENA countries due to scarce natural resources, insufficient investment, and an unsuitable policy framework. The lack of economic opportunities for youth in rural areas is caused by a number of issues: inadequate training or mentoring resources, insufficient access to financial services, and traditions which favor government jobs over entrepreneurial pursuits among others. Governments and donors are trying to respond to these issues, but there remains few scaleable or sustainable models for helping rural youth to improve their livelihoods.
With support from the International Fund for Agricultural Development and in partnership with Silatech, Making Cents will begin to address these problems through the three-year, $6 million USD “Scaling-up IFAD rural youth employment interventions in the MENA region” project with local partners in Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt and Yemen.
How will this project affect regional and global stakeholders? It will do this by developing sustainable and scaleable youth employment initiatives that can be expanded both in MENA and other regions of the world and by disseminating the learning from these initiatives.
“How can we speed up the pace at which tools and best practices are shared and applied and partnerships are formed to better meet the diverse economic needs of today’s growing youth population?” Our answer to this question is the Youth Economic Opportunities portal, www.YouthEconomicOpportunities.org. This is the first knowledge exchange portal designed by and for the global youth economic opportunities sector, and dedicated to discussion and action around this important question. In September, 2012, Making Cents launched this portal and our goal is to support you to:
In just three months, over 30 blogs and hundreds of the most relevant papers, case studies, and toolkits have been shared with 7,000 unique visitors from 169 countries.
Would you like to share your company's event or highlight the important work you are doing with the thousands of portal users? If so, please upload your organization’s latest research, tools, events, blogs, and other announcements here.
View our current newsletter:
Making Cents Quarterly Newsletter – Winter 2013