Youth Employment and Entrepreneurship

We support young people to unlock their potential and build sustainable careers by connecting them with the right skills, networks, and opportunities for employment and enterprise development.

At SNV, we believe that providing young people with opportunities for employment and enterprise development is essential for creating sustainable, inclusive, and prosperous communities. Our Youth Employment and Entrepreneurship (YEE) portfolio of projects and programs, now in more than 10 African countries, applies a market systems approach to building and strengthening youth agency, confidence, and voice. We facilitate their access to economic opportunities while contributing to an enabling environment. We do this in partnership with key actors like national governments, private sector actors, civil society organisations and development partners. We put the voice of young people at the core of our programming and apply an inclusive market systems approach to youth employment and enterprise development in agri-food, water, energy, and other emerging sectors.

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 contribute to sustainably addressing systemic challenges in partnership with other key players, including the youth. We integrate climate-smart and gender equality and social inclusion (GESI) responsive approaches that support markets to function more effectively and beneficially for young people.

The YEE Pull, Match, Push, Enable (P-M-P-E) framework approach is contextualised to provide out-of-school, unemployed and underemployed young women and men, aged 18-35, with the tools, skills, and networks to identify employment opportunities or start and develop social and financial enterprises, thus, providing opportunities for themselves and others. The P-M-P-E framework approach facilitates linkages between the labour market (demand side) and skilled youth (supply side) to stimulate employment and entrepreneurship opportunities.

How it works

The YEE portfolio is built on the Pull-Match-Push-Enable market-oriented pathways of change, which are designed to facilitate the development of youth-led social and financial enterprises and create decent employment opportunities for young wage earners.

These components are the cornerstone of SNV’s approach to youth employment and enterprise development, aiming at providing young people with the tools, skills, and networks needed to identify enterprise development and employability opportunities.

  • The Pull component: Company engagement, leadership development, market access and sustainability

    The Pull component includes market systems development and supporting strategies to accelerate the growth of youth-led enterprises. The P-M-P-E framework approach 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. SNV will invest in and partner with MSMEs and cooperatives that have lower barriers to entry for women and vulnerable groups, and that commit to hire or support young women or men.

  • The Match component: Access to economic opportunities, markets and finance

    We go beyond training. SNV facilitate access to market opportunities. The Match trajectory is therefore crucial for the identification of cross sectoral and value chain opportunities for youth employment and entrepreneurship. The opportunities identified are gender-responsive and meet youth aspirations and ambitions. SNV has adapted the P-M-P-E framework approach to fragile contexts where there are thinner markets to support income generation, food security, and more resilient communities.

  • The Push component: Agency, confidence, voice

    The Push component focuses on individual and institutional capacity strengthening and incubation strategies. It aims to build and equip young women and men with market-oriented employability, leadership, and entrepreneurship skills. This includes peer-to-peer learning, role models for inspiration, mentoring and action-oriented coaching, and strengthening positive networking, confidence, and relationships among young people, especially young women.

  • The Enable component: Inclusive entrepreneurial environment

    The Enable component strongly interfaces with the P-M-P pathways of change. It focuses on creating an enabling environment for youth-led enterprises and decent employment for young wage earners. SNV contributes to policy influencing and implementation and improving the enabling environment for youth-led enterprises to thrive. The YEE 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.

The role of youth in accelerating systems transformation across sectors

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, sustainable, and equitable future for all. By empowering young people with the tools, skills, and networks needed to identify employability opportunities or start and grow enterprises, deepening and scaling partnerships, we can address the structural barriers that prevent them from entering and succeeding in the labour market. Our overarching vision is to catalyse positive change at different intervention levels and ultimately contribute to resilient livelihoods for the impact group.

In the energy sector, this translates into opportunities for young men and women to become suppliers or distributors of energy access technologies or setting up businesses in cleaner cookstoves, biodigesters, solar PV, and related appliances.

In the agri-food sector, we’re facilitating the creation of opportunities for and by 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 facilitate the creation of economic and employment opportunities for youth and women by promoting sustainable, green businesses and social enterprises. This includes building and strengthening capacity, increasing access to financial services, and supporting the growth of small and medium-sized enterprises in the green and circular economy.

Click here for an overview of our projects in YEE!