New initiative seeks to create 10 million jobs for Ethiopia’s youth by 2030




Over 10 million youth in Ethiopia are expected to access job opportunities by 2030. This follows the launch of an initiative, Young Africa Works in Ethiopia, by Mastercard Foundation that will seek to create employment opportunities for the youth in partnership with Ethiopia’s Jobs Creation Commission (JCC). Mastercard Foundation has committed an initial US $300 million to the initiative.

Young Africa Works in Ethiopia is aligned with the Ethiopian government’s plan to create new jobs to spur economic growth and was designed in partnership with the government, the private sector, academic institutions, and young people.

(TOP: Ephrem T. Lemango, Commissioner, Jobs Creation Commission; Reeta Roy, Mastercard Foundation President and CEO; and Alemayehu Konde Koira, Country Head for Ethiopia, Mastercard Foundation celebrate the announcement of Young Africa Works in Ethiopia).

Mastercard Foundation will work with JCC to create programs to catalyze growth in the tourism, agriculture, manufacturing, and ICT sectors. Programs will support entrepreneurs and small and medium-sized businesses to achieve greater productivity and expand income-generating opportunities.

“Ethiopia’s prosperity will be achieved when we individually achieve our full potential first. Creating jobs for all, particularly, youth and women, is about giving people hope, dignity and the means to build this prosperous future,” says Dr. Ephrem T. Lemango, Commissioner, Jobs Creation Commission.

The Foundation announced its first phase of implementing partners, including the International Centre for Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe), Kifiya Financial Technology, First Consult and DAI Europe, Dalberg, Ministry of Innovation and Technology, and SNV. The cumulative value of the first phase of partnerships is over US $119 million and will see more than 1.4 million direct work opportunities contributing to Young Africa Works in Ethiopia’s goal of 10 million work opportunities by 2030.

“Through my travel across Ethiopia, I’m inspired by the creativity and dynamism of young entrepreneurs and how their innovations are bringing about meaningful change in their communities,” says Reeta Roy, Mastercard Foundation President and CEO. “Young Africa Works will support them by providing access to finance, business development support and skills development so they can further scale their businesses to create more jobs for young Ethiopians.”

Learning from its work in 34 countries on the continent, including Ethiopia, over the past decade, the Foundation will deepen its engagement in 10 African countries. Ethiopia is a priority country because of the government’s commitment to reform the policy and regulatory environment to encourage the development of the private sector and attract foreign investment. Since 2009, the Mastercard Foundation has committed more than US $62 million to advance financial inclusion, education, and youth livelihoods.

“It’s hard owning your own business, and I failed at least twice, but if you follow your passion, then you are able to really impact people’s lives. What keeps me going is knowing that my drive does not come from making a profit, but from creating jobs that are giving people a livable income and helping them flourish and grow. As an entrepreneur, I want to improve the productivity, creativity and sustainable growth of my company but this means access to capital and land so that I can expand and scale my business,” explains 29-year old Semhal Guesh, Founder and CEO of Kabana Leather in Addis Ababa, a start-up that was established in 2017 and now employs more than 80 people, 80% of them young women.

Young Africa Works in Ethiopia will focus on the following priorities:

  • Strengthening agri-food systems, supporting linkages to agro-industrial parks, and increasing access to finance and business development services for agribusinesses.
  • Strengthening micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) across priority sectors to grow and create significant jobs.
  • Building a robust pipeline of skilled youth to work in Ethiopia’s industrial parks and enabling them to establish enterprises aligned with the business needs of the parks.
  • Improving the quality and relevance of training offered by academic and training institutions and ensuring Youth are successfully linked to jobs.
  • Supporting the expansion and modernization of the tourism sector by working With the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sports, and Tourism Ethiopia on their strategy, and by engaging with the private sector.
  • Supporting the development of a national digitization strategy with the Ministry of Innovation and Technology and working with the private sector on widespread digitization of payments, financial services, and other key services.

Ethiopia’s Jobs Creation Commission is a public institution under the Office of the Prime Minister to advance the government’s goal around employment and job creation. It aims to lead, govern and coordinate the jobs creation agenda at the national and subnational levels by guiding interventions of government, the private sector and development partners to high-growth sectors through policy analysis, innovation and market-oriented skill development.

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