Youth Employment and Entrepreneurship

We help young people unlock their potential and build sustainable careers by connecting them with the right skills, networks, and opportunities for employment and entrepreneurship.

At SNV, we believe that providing young people with opportunities for employment and entrepreneurship is essential for creating sustainable, inclusive, and prosperous communities. Our Youth Employment and Entrepreneurship (YEE) approach is a cross-sectoral framework that focuses on the agri-food and energy sectors.

With YEE, we enable young people, particularly those in rural areas, underprivileged, underemployed, and unemployed, to identify enterprise development and employability opportunities, access appropriate financial services, and access formal and informal markets and information.

The challenges in youth employment and entrepreneurship

The challenge of youth unemployment is significant and widespread, with the global youth unemployment rate estimated at 15.6% in 2021, which is more than three times the adult rate according to the International Labour Organization. Young people, particularly in Africa and Asia, are more likely to be unemployed, underemployed, or working in poverty. Young women, rural youth, persons with disabilities, and other socially excluded groups often face even greater barriers to employment. Structural barriers also prevent young people from entering the labour market, highlighting the need for economic empowerment and employment opportunities for disadvantaged groups to address the challenges of youth unemployment, poverty, and cross-cutting challenges like climate mitigation and adaptation, radicalisation, and good governance.

What we want to achieve

At SNV, we aim to address these challenges with a climate-smart and gender equality and social inclusion (GESI) responsive market systems approach that supports markets to function more effectively, sustainably, and beneficially for young people. The YEE framework approach is contextualised to provide out-of-school, underprivileged, underemployed, and unemployed young women and men with the tools, skills, and networks to identify enterprise development and employment opportunities. It facilitates linkages between the labour market (demand side) and skilled youth (supply side) to stimulate employment and entrepreneurship opportunities.

How it works

The YEE approach is built on the Push-Match-Pull-Enable components, which are designed to facilitate the development of youth-led enterprises and create decent employment opportunities for young wage earners. These components are the cornerstone of the YEE framework approach, and they are aimed at providing young people with the tools, skills, and networks they need to identify enterprise development and employability opportunities in SNV's sectors of agri-food, energy, and water.

  • The Push component focuses on individual and institutional capacity strengthening. It aims to equip young women and men with market-oriented employability and entrepreneurship skills. This includes peer-to-peer learning, role models for inspiration, and strengthening positive networking, leadership, and relationships among young people, especially young women. SNV goes beyond skills training and towards mainstreaming skills in training and market systems.

  • The Match component is crucial for the identification of opportunities for youth employment and entrepreneurship in select sectors and value chains. The opportunities identified should be gender-responsive, meet youth aspirations and ambitions, and be 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.

  • The Pull component includes market systems development. The YEE framework approach is developed on the basis of (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, in order to sustain the prospect of developing working and profitable business to business (B2B) relationships with young women and men. SNV will invest in and partner with MSMEs and cooperatives who have lower barriers to entry for women and vulnerable groups, and who commit to hire or support young women or men.

  • The Enable component focuses on creating an enabling environment for youth-led enterprises and decent employment for young wage earners. SNV supports action and advocacy for policy change and implementation to influence the policy environments and improve the enabling environment for youth-led enterprises. The portfolio seeks to generate evidence that can contribute to a conducive 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.

The role of youth in transforming the agri-food, water, and energy systems

The agri-food, water, and energy sectors are essential for achieving sustainable development, and by involving youth in these sectors, we can build a more prosperous and equitable future for all. By empowering young people with the tools, skills, and networks needed to identify enterprise development and employability opportunities, we can address the structural barriers that prevent them from entering the labour market. Our overarching vision is to catalyse positive change at different intervention levels and ultimately contribute to resilient livelihoods for marginalised young women and men.

In the energy sector, this translates into opportunities for young men and women to set up businesses in cleaner cookstoves, biodigesters, solar PV, and related appliances.

In the agri-food sector, we’re offering opportunities for young men and women to become employees and entrepreneurs with respect to climate-smart agriculture, nature-based solutions, climate adaptation technologies, and the development of nutritious food products.

In the water sector, we create economic and employment opportunities for youth, women, and returning migrants by promoting sustainable, green businesses. This includes building capacity, increasing access to financial services, and supporting the growth of small and medium-sized enterprises in the green and circular economy.