Changing mindsets in Zimbabwe with SNV’s youth employment approach

A photo of Augusto Agostinho in an agricultural field

SNV's Opportunities for Youth Employment (OYE) programme is continuing to gain traction amongst key stakeholders in Zimbabwe’s youth employment ecosystem.

With this momentum, it is becoming increasingly apparent that there is a need for a gradual mindset shift and the creation of smart partnerships.

Virtual Youth Entrepreneurship Fair

To showcase some elements of the OYE Push, Match, Pull (P-M-P) Approach, SNV Zimbabwe held its first Virtual Youth Entrepreneurship Fair on 29 and 30 April 2021. In light of current COVID 19 restrictions, the event was an experimental hybrid of both online and in-person components. It was watched live by hundreds of viewers online (62% of whom identified as young entrepreneurs). Feedback surveys were sent to participants and viewers after the event. These surveys revealed that the vibrant panel discussion on the need for radical cross-sector partnerships to support young entrepreneurs to succeed, as well as the pitch competition for OYE-supported youth, were the most popular. Other popular elements were the spoken word and music performances by young creatives. The involvement of representatives from the private sector, government and donors in the programme also allowed participants to get a holistic view of SNV’s impactful work in the country.

Key takeaways from the event

Some of the key takeaways from the event are as follows:


It is clear that programmes need to go beyond skills training.  Young women and men who participate in the programme ought to be provided with tools, skills and networks, including mentoring and coaching and access to finance among other business development services.  This support has multiple benefits:

Firstly, it enables programme participants to identify sustainable enterprise development and employability opportunities in select core sectors and value chains, based on their skills and interest. Secondly, the skills and networks enable young women and men to take their businesses forward. And thirdly, they are provided with the motivation and support structures to market themselves as professional wage earners and entrepreneurs and assures sustainable enterprises.

Ultimately, consistent mentoring and coaching prepared programme participants for the pitching session at the event. The young entrepreneurs positioned themselves and took ownership of their small enterprises once given the platform and confidently pitched their business ideas to potential investors. Many books emphasise the value of confidence and the ‘X factor’ needed to stand out from the crowd. This is particularly important and was showcased by these young people who are pursuing the entrepreneurship pathway.

Speaking the language of business

In addition, the pitch competition illustrated that young entrepreneurs, including those from unsophisticated rural backgrounds, need to be able to speak the language that investors understand, no matter what sector the business is in. This includes being knowledgeable about their business model, unique value proposition and having a firm grasp of the basic but crucial figures relating to the enterprise, such as revenue and cash flow forecast. This makes financial literacy and business training imperative for young people.

For us, by us

Young people are inspired by stories from other successful young women and men - especially those who are engaged, proactive, motivated, and growing in their quest for employment and entrepreneurship development.  Sharing how they creatively navigate through difficult socio-economic circumstances inspires other upcoming cohorts on what is possible. Interviews conducted during the event with some of the young entrepreneurs confirm that sharing honestly and openly about their entrepreneurial journey, was quite inspiring to many viewers. Representation has always been critical in the development sector, especially when it comes to programmes targeting young underemployed and underemployed youth, women and other marginalised groups and minorities. As a result, the impact and effectiveness of peer-to-peer interactions should never be underestimated.

About OYE

SNV’s Opportunity for Youth Employment Push-Match-Pull-Enable (P-M-P-E) Approach is applied in over 10 countries in Africa to help stimulate entrepreneurship and employment opportunities for unemployed and underemployed out of school young women and men. We focus on ecosystem development (enabling environment) collaborating with national governments. We also work with civil society organisations, local service providers and private sector companies who play a pivotal role in providing concrete employment opportunities, mentoring and coaching, market linkages and access to finance to the target group. SNVs OYE Approach contributes to SDG 8.5 that aims to achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all women and men, including young people by 2030.