GenU gears up to connect young people to job opportunities

Undoubtedly youths across the world are experts in their own lives and experiences. They have the ideas and energy to create a better world for themselves as well as for the universe- if only they get an opportunity. Though recognizing that talent is universal while opportunity is not, the government should give an opportunity for the youth to exploit their talent.

Cognizant of this fact, the Government of Ethiopia is working exhaustively in supporting the youths to engage in different entrepreneurship programs. In addition to the government, private organizations are also framing different strategies which are directly related to job creation for the youth.

In order to support and legalized this partnership, the government has adopted a Public Private Partnership (PPP) Policy. And different local and foreign investors are administered through this policy. Among those, Generation Unlimited (GenU) which is the world’s leading Public-Private-Youth Partnership (PPYP) is transforming crisis into opportunity for young people.

Generation Unlimited is a global public-private-youth partnership with a mission to provide skills and connect the world’s 1.8 billion young people to opportunities. The focus of GenU and the Youth Challenge 2022 is to provide skills and connect young people to entrepreneurship and social to bring impact and opportunities in their communities. The Generation Unlimited Youth Challenge Ethiopia 2022 was launched last week here in Addis Ababa.

The Challenge events will take place in over 35 countries worldwide. It calls on young innovators in Ethiopia to design solutions to accelerate Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), by helping the youth develop skills, offers mentoring, and provide seed funding to turn their ideas into realities, the program coordinator stated.

Ministry of Labor and Skill (MoLS) announced that the GenU is seemingly important to connect Ethiopian youths to job opportunity through helping the youth to develop skills, offer mentoring, and provide seed funding to turn their ideas into realities.

In the launching occasion of GenU which is the Public Private-Youth Partnership last week, Tiumezgi Fikadu, Director of Partnership and Grant Management at the Ministry stated that the government is keen to work with this global public-private-youth partnership in a way to reduce joblessness.

In his opening speech at the launching ceremony, UNDP Resident Representative Turhan Saleh said that his organization is bringing together bright young minds to tackle some of the biggest challenges facing their generation. “We are proud to help young innovators to develop their own game-changing ideas

“When we speak of ‘jobs’ and youth aspirations, we need to have two dimensions in mind often and immediately associated wage employment dimension, and the self-employment dimension, especially in the context of Ethiopia where enterprise development and growth is constrained,” he stated.

At the end of the day dynamic, productive and robust enterprises which are the engines of economic growth and job creation will be realized.

As to him, the reasons for the current rampant unemployment are often a mix of factors such as lack of attention to entrepreneurship and skill building in school, society rewards wage employment more than self-employment, and overall business environment that makes starting a business very difficult.

The first edition of the Youth Challenge will focus on 5 major cities in Ethiopia such as Addis Ababa, Adama, Bahir Dar, Hawassa, and Jigjiga and will take place over the periods of 8 weeks until mid-March involving Boot camps to develop skills, mentoring by experienced business professionals, provision of seed-funding to teams as well as creating opportunity for the 2 winning teams to compete in the Global Youth Challenge.

The call for applications launched last week will remain open for 2 weeks and will be closed on February 9, 2022. Ten successful applicant teams will be invited to take part in the initial kick- off orientation workshop in Bishoftu in mid-February. Following the workshop, the 5 most promising teams will be selected in late February for mentoring as the next stage.

Then, in July 2022, the most promising business solutions from each country will be submitted to a global judging process. If selected, these projects will receive further funding, along with a tailored global incubation program from GenU partners to support them to scale.

The Challenge will provide young people – who have teamed up in groups of 3-5 – with the three main ingredients for successful business start-up which outlined above.

“We will provide the necessary skills training through Boot camps and offer mentoring by experienced business people and provide seed-funding of up to 100,000 ETB for the teams to put their business or social impacting ideas into practice,” the coordinator mentioned.

On the occasion, on behalf of State Minister Nigussu Tilahun, Tiumezgi Fikadu said that GenU is even more as it is a partnership that puts young people at the center not only in what we do, but also how we do it. One of the GenU principles in this context states, “nothing for us without us”, seeing many young people having joined us here this morning can be said a strong testimony of our work and its relevance, he noted.

He further stated that the government is building a local Ethiopian coalition of partners that are thematically concerned and focused on four impact areas: skills and employment, entrepreneurship, social impact and connectivity. GenU strives to look at these impact areas holistically by addressing not only supply-side challenges such as a shortage of relevant skills, but also at the demand-side by addressing for instance, the lack of employment opportunities.

Noting that GenU was established in Ethiopia in mid-2020 during the first wave of the COVID-19 global pandemic by UNICEF and UNDP and hosted then by the MoLS, and explained that ILO, UNFPA and Resident Coordinator Office have also joined and formed a small, but active country team.

He also elucidated that at MOLS are very experienced in hosting youth challenges in Ethiopia with over the years having hosted BRUH entrepreneurship Challenges. He also said that he believes all efforts contribute to the government’s aspiration for job creation as well as Ministry’s strategic plans and objectives.

As to him, youth entrepreneurship challenges are critical as they strengthen the overall entrepreneurship ecosystem in Ethiopia by building necessary entrepreneurial capabilities and in the promotion of start-up businesses. While wishing young people all the best in their application and throughout the journey with the process, he appreciated all partners as well as the participants of the event.

The former Jobs Creation Commission estimates that 14 million jobs are needed to absorb new labor market entrants between 2020 and 2025. Currently, however, the economy is not able to create the jobs needed in both rural and urban areas. It is clear that young people in Ethiopia striving a long way to become productive and engaged citizens despite the significant effort by the government and its partners.

According to Mr. Turhan Saleh youths need someone who not only understands their situation and can relate to the challenges they experience, but also someone who can offer practical advice and function as a “gate opener” to important business connections and networks. And not surprisingly, it is vital for business start-ups to have access to the necessary initial capital to allow them to build the prototypes of their products, goods or services.

Moreover, through holding regularly youth entrepreneurship challenges, the other development partners and government agencies hope to contribute to a better societal acceptance and normalization by viewing entrepreneurship and self-employment as an opportunity for young people rather than consider entrepreneurship only for those who haven’t gotten a wage employment job.

The Youth Challenge is part of Generation Unlimited’s flagship activity in 2022. The Challenge aims not only at contributing to a better and stronger entrepreneurial ecosystem in Ethiopia by supporting young people to realize their business or social impacting ideas and start their businesses, but also to normalize entrepreneurship for a greater social acceptance in the present and future.



Leave a Reply