On Economic Growth, Employment, and Decent Work (SDGs and Our Work)

Photo Description: Project 3E student, Chizaram, receives her seed capital to start a small business and hire other youth in her community.

(Editor’s note: This post is part of a series covering YTF’s work with the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals. See more of the series here.)

YTF youth entrepreneurial programs teach innovation and empathy-driven engineering design processes which inspires youth to become the next generation of change leaders—leading the way from “Aid to Africa” to “Made in Africa”.

It is estimated that, by 2050, 1.8 billion babies will be born in Africa—doubling the continent’s current population. One fifth of the children under 18 in Africa will live in Nigeria.[1]  By 2050, Nigeria will have the 5th largest percent of youth ages 0-19 in the world.[2] Throughout Sub-Saharan Africa, a great majority of youth have been orphaned at young ages—making them the head of the household at young ages. Currently in Kenya, 72% of the population is under 30 years old.[3] At 69.9%, Uganda has the highestpercent of youth ages 0-24 in the entire world.[4]

Youth bulge is a significant factor in Africa—this occurs when there are disproportionate percentages of a country’s population being of youth ages. It is projected that there will not be enough jobs through traditional employment routes. For example, recent reports show that the labor market in Sub-Saharan Africa fails to guarantee sustainable livelihood opportunities to the majority of youth living in rural areas.[5]

Youth are predominantly trapped in the retail sector in low-growth, low-innovation businesses that make use of older technology.[6] Through innovative technology and networks of global peers and mentors, YTF programs teach empathy-driven engineering design process and problem-based scientific inquiry that lead youth to identify solutions and invent answers to important topics or concerns in their communities.

3D Africa increases the value chain from low-end businesses through the use of 3D printing which allows youth and women entrepreneurs to not only sell products and services locally, but adds the capacity to sell within country and to export to other countries. 3D Africa provides and increases sustainable and stable livelihood opportunities, especially for youth and women in rural settings, and decreases vulnerable employment for youth and women

Entrepreneurial business development for youth is not only a significant engine for growth in Sub-Saharan Africa, but is a critical livelihood opportunity for youth. YTF programs provide youth with education, technology, and innovation skills along with business development training that increases youth access to financial services and products to start or diversify businesses.

Nigerian Women Entrepreneurs Mobile Value Added Services. YTF empowers women entrepreneurs through business, financial capabilities, and mobile technology skill training for women entrepreneurs throughout Nigeria. Women are trained to profitably expand their existing business, broaden their access to financial services, integrate the use of mobile technologies, and gain business development skills from industry tours, “Power Hour” business networking, and mentorship from other women entrepreneurs.

Since the 2012 launch, 5,415 women entrepreneurs have participated in the program resulting in 93% reporting an increase in business activity, 18% have expanded their business, 78% have more confidence in hiring additional employees, 97% have improved bookkeeping practices, and 90% are more empowered in their households and communities.

Read More: World Economic Forum, Q & A: 60 Seconds with Njideka Harry


[1] UNICEF. Generation 2030│Africa. August, 2014. www.unicef.org/publications/files/Generation_2030_Africa.pdf
[2] The World Bank. Health Nutrition and Population Statistics: Population estimates and projections. (World DataBank, 2014 data). Retrieved June, 2015 at: http://databank.worldbank.org/data/home.aspx
[3] United Nations. World Population Prospects: The 2012 Revision. Retrieved June 2015 at: http://esa.un.org/unpd/wpp/Excel-Data/population.htm
[4] CIA. The World Factbook. Age Structure. Retrieved June 2015 at https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/resources/the-world-factbook/fields/2010.html#ug/
[5] International Labour Office and MasterCard Foundation 2015 Report, Youth and Rural Development: Evidence from 25 School-to-Work Transition Surveys. April 15, 2015. Found at: http://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/—dgreports/—dcomm/documents/publication/wcms_360558.pdf
[6] IDRC/CRDI 2015 Global Entrepreneurship Monitor Report, Africa’s Young Entrepreneurs: Unlocking the Potential for a Brighter Future. September 2015. Found at: http://www.idrc.ca/EN/Documents/Africas-Young-Entrepreneurs-Unlocking-the-Potential-for-a-Brighter-Future.pdf
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