Manal graduated from the Arab American University of Jenin with a major in Management Information Systems; yet, like thousands of her peers, she realized that her years of study offered no guarantee of a job.
Her determination led the 22-year-old to enroll in the Youth Earn project offered through Partners for Sustainable Development with support from the International Youth Foundation (IYF). Through the program, she benefited from life skills instruction based on IYF’s Passport to Success® curriculum, along with training in entrepreneurship and how to develop a community service project. The experience equipped Manal with the knowledge and skills she needed to pursue her passion.
“On a personal level, it [the training] gave me the confidence I needed to be more social and outspoken,” she says. “Professionally, the training challenged my thoughts, and allowed me to tap into my creativity.” Currently employed part-time at an electronics store, Manal is driven to provide other youth in her community with opportunities to gain the skills she learned.
To reach her goal, in late 2014, Manal, along with 20 other youth, launched a new social enterprise to train women with the skills needed to enter the labor market and channel their abilities and entrepreneurial spirit into money-making ideas for a better livelihood. The organization currently engages 100 volunteers and conducts roughly 10 activities per month in Jenin and surrounding communities through partnerships with local businesses and NGOs.
Manal and her team seek to address the high rate of unemployment among Palestinian youth through strengthening their skills and connecting them to opportunities. So far, 50 youth have benefited, with an additional 35 young people being trained currently.
Roughly 44 percent of young Palestinians are unemployed, half of whom hold university degrees. “I know how hard it is to find a job and I know what the labor market requires,” says Manal. Manal is one of 839 youth to benefit from entrepreneurship training through IYF’s Youth Entrepreneurship Development initiative, supported by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Mission to the West Bank and Gaza.
The International Youth Foundation (IYF) invests in the extraordinary potential of young people. Founded in 1990, IYF builds and maintains a worldwide community of businesses, governments, and civil-society organizations committed to empowering youth to be healthy, productive, and engaged citizens. IYF programs are catalysts of change that help young people obtain a quality education, gain employability skills, make healthy choices, and improve their communities. IYF currently works in over 70 countries and the following story includes highlights from one of our programs.
Growing up as a young girl in Zimbabwe, Fortune got the impression women weren’t meant to be entrepreneurs. Now a successful poultry farmer, Fortune and the Zimbabwe:Works (Z:W) program that helped her identify and reach her goals, are dispelling popular stereotypes of what the nation’s youth can achieve. Fortune received life skills and entrepreneurship training, along with access to financing, to start her business.
Initially funded through its first phase by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), Zimbabwe:Works (Z:W) offers unemployed youth, ages 16 to 35, a menu of options, including life skills training, entrepreneurship development, access to finance, and civic leadership opportunities. Recognizing that there is no magic bullet in solving the nation’s youth livelihood needs, the program pursues an integrated, holistic approach firmly rooted in developing the capacity of local partners to deliver services.
Now entering a second phase, the program has brought together USAID and the Department for International Development (DFID) in the U.K. in a dynamic partnership to expand these services to thousands more young Zimbabweans. Over the next three years, IYF and its partners will provide increased economic opportunities for youth—with a particular focus on young Zimbabwean women—by creating improved pathways for young people to get jobs, access financial services, and start their own enterprises.
In this video watch as Fortune and Talent share what they have achieved through the program. They are two of the 8,500 youth reached through the IYF program—so far.
“I believe I can overcome any limitation,” says Titik, a young woman from Jakarta, Indonesia who is the first member of her family to get a professional job. Her journey to full-time employment and economic independence is the subject of a new video highlighting the impact of EquipYouth, a global job training and workforce development program being implemented by IYF with support from the Caterpillar Foundation. The video also introduces Mithun, a young man from India who credits the skills he learned through the program—including how to interview for a job, build a team, and manage time effectively—for getting him his current position with a local technology company.
Launched in 2012, EquipYouth has replicated Titik’s and Mithun’s stories of personal achievement and employment success thousands of times around the world, equipping young people with market-relevant life, technical, and entrepreneurship skills; internship opportunities; on-the-job training; and job placement support. To date, the program has positively impacted the lives of nearly 8,000 young women and men in 12 countries, with 67 percent securing jobs.
Born into a conservative family in northeast Amman, Jordan, Israa, age 23, was expected to stay at home after completing secondary school until she got married. But her family’s wishes, especially those of her father, conflicted with Israa’s dream of developing her skills and pursuing a career. “My father didn’t believe in education for girls and was opposed to women working,” says the oldest of six siblings.
Israa’s journey of changing her father’s mind started when she heard about the bookkeeping training offered through Equip Youth, a program of the International Youth Foundation (IYF) carried out with support from the Caterpillar Foundation.
After appealing to her father over the course of two months, Israa finally convinced him that the nearby location of the training would be both convenient and safe. Says Israa, “I explained to him that the selection process was tough. Fifty applicants were competing for twenty spots. I would have to take placement tests in addition to personal interviews and my chances of getting accepted were low. When I finally was accepted, he didn’t have the heart to say no.”
The six-month training offered through Al Quds College consisted of three parts: life skills instruction based on IYF’s Passport to Success® curriculum, technical training, and an internship. Among the technical skills Israa gained were essential computer skills, basic finance, customer service, employee communications, data entry, and business English.
“The training was challenging,” says Israa. “The standards were high. I studied every day and benefited a lot from it.”
But that was just the beginning. Through a job fair organized through the program, Israa, along with 15 other youth, was selected by representatives from the global furniture brand IKEA to interview at the company’s offices. After three rounds of interviews, Israa received an offer for a part-time job.
Success was not guaranteed, however, until she could convince her father to allow her to work in a mixed gender environment with occasional late shifts. She invited him to visit the company and meet her supervisors. “I believe I changed my father,” says Israa who succeeded in winning his support. “Even when I face difficulties at work, I think of how hard I worked to get here. I know many unemployed university graduates. I, on the other hand, work for an international company.”
Says IKEA Showroom Manager, “Israa is a hard worker, who has proven she’s fit for the job. We’ve hired five new employees, four of whom are IYF trainees.” Not only has Israa been successful in fulfilling her dreams, she’s also become an example for other family members and the girls in her community. “Now my parents speak about me with pride. My father’s perspective on women and employment has changed too. When relatives ask if he approves of my job, he answers, ‘why not, there is no shame in working.’”
In addition to becoming financially independent, Israa feels it’s her duty to help her father, a government employee, to support the family. “I’m proud of being financially independent,” she says. “When I finished the Tawjihi, I was too embarrassed to ask my father for money. But now, I can fully support myself and help with my family’s expenses.”
Israa has big dreams for the future. She plans to stay with IKEA and hopes to develop her skills to qualify for promotions. “In five years, I hope to become a shop owner,” she adds. “I want to buy a car, an apartment, and fully establish myself financially.”
International Youth Foundation (IYF)
IYF invests in the extraordinary potential of young people. Founded in 1990, IYF builds and maintains a worldwide community of businesses, governments, and civil-society organizations committed to empowering youth to be healthy, productive, and engaged citizens. IYF programs are catalysts of change that help young people obtain a quality education, gain employability skills, make healthy choices, and improve their communities. IYF currently works with a multitude of donors in over 70 countries. The following describes highlights from one of our programs.
Young Social Innovators in Africa Take Center Stage
Kampala, Uganda—An emerging generation of young change-makers in Africa is tackling urgent challenges—poverty, food insecurity, unemployment, lack of access to health care—with creativity, drive, and entrepreneurial spirit.
Take Mene, who developed a low-cost poultry feed that increases the productivity of smallholder farmers while making protein-rich food more affordable in rural Nigeria, and Regina, who empowers women in Zambia with the skills and confidence to pursue IT careers and ‘pay forward’ what they have learned to their peers.
These two young social entrepreneurs are among 25 recently selected as Fellows of Social Entrepreneurs Transforming Africa (SET Africa). The SET Fellows were selected from 15 Anglophone African countries and will receive advanced leadership training, networking support, coaching, and financing through their participation in the program. The program is a regional collaboration between the International Youth Foundation (IYF), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and The MasterCard Foundation and is managed by the Makerere University Business School (MUBS) in Uganda.
“Africa is a continent full of young people with the vivacity and creativity to tackle their communities’ most troubling challenges,” said IYF President and CEO Bill Reese. “Thanks to the work of our local partner MUBS, we are privileged to support these young founders and CEOs in achieving even more through their social ventures.”
SET Africa is a member of IYF’s YouthActionNet® network, is one of 18 national and regional youth leadership development initiatives across the globe. The 25 inaugural SET Fellows join a community of over 900 young social entrepreneurs in 85 countries.
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Director, Corporate Programs