The Green Jobs programme and the Youth Entrepreneurship Facility (YEF) is kicking off an exciting collaboration to promote Green Youth Entrepreneurship in Eastern Africa. The YEF is a 5 year programme financially supported by the Africa Commission, an initiative of the government of Denmark.
The vision for the YEF is to enable African youth to turn their creativity, energy and ideas into business opportunities and it sets an ambitious agenda of spreading the culture of entrepreneurship to East Africa ensuring that the largest number of youth ever to come into labour markets will have opportunities as well as the abilities to lift themselves out of poverty.
The YEF focuses on the promotion of an entrepreneurship culture among youth and the broader society; entrepreneurship education for in-school youth; access to affordable business development services for youth that are already in the labour market; access to affordable financial services; support to youth led organizations and an evidence based advocacy component through rigorous impact studies to better identify “what works” in the area of youth employment and youth entrepreneurship.
The partnership between the Green Jobs programme and the YEF seeks to build the capacities of youth to contribute towards a greener economy and sustainable development, economic growth and employment creation. Through the focus on promising green sectors youth will not only be strengthened to adapt to climate change and environmental degradation but will be enabled to turn environmental challenges into business opportunities.
Sub-Saharan Africa is the youngest region in the world with larger youth populations than any other region in the world. The largest-ever youth cohorts will be entering the labour markets in the coming years making it more important than ever before to invest in young people. Furthermore, the youth employment challenges are exacerbated through extreme climate events, climate change and environmental degradation, which already today, severely affects the economy and the livelihoods of youth.
The destruction through floods and long term loss of food and cash crops such as coffee - which is a major income source in the region - and the scarcity of water and natural resources - such as the decreasing water level of Lake Victoria and scarcity of fish - is already affecting employment opportunities for youth. In addition, the lack of firewood and potable water directly affects young women’s time and hence opportunity to study and/or run businesses.
Youth is the solution to these challenges and not the problem. Realising the potential of Africa’s youth through improved employment and income opportunities that are also adapted to climate variability and climate change is crucial for poverty reduction, economic growth and social inclusion.
Promoting Green Youth Entrepreneurship holds the promise to simultaneously create economic growth and tackle poverty, cope with environmental degradation and adapt to climate change. Tapping business opportunities in green sectors, for example in solar and photovoltaic business, organic agriculture and agro processing, will not only contribute to adapt to climate change but will advance the region into a favourable competitive position in a future global green economy.