Innovative approach for youth employment generation in Yemen
70 young women and men, participating in a youth empowerment project, have a new source of income through an innovative approach called "3x6" launched recently by the Government of Yemen and implemented with support of UNDP, For All Foundation, and the governments of Japan and South Korea.
The approach contributes to conflict prevention by addressing demands by youth for immediate and sustainable employment. In the first phase of the 3x6 approach, youth participate in a rehabilitation project during which they receive a daily wage. The participants are obliged to save two thirds of their daily wage which is deposited into saving accounts they establish in micro-finance institutions.
During phase I, the period of temporary employment, individuals are encouraged to develop a business idea that they will implement individually or in association with others in Phase II. The project ensures support to the participants during this first phase to refine and improve their business idea through a benefit / cost analysis and business feasibility study, which provides the foundation to develop a business plan for implementation in phase II.
In Phase II, once the business plan is found to be solid, the project will triple the savings of the individual (or collective savings if people choose to go into business with others) to provide start – up capital to implement the business idea. During the implementation of the business idea (phase II), the project will ensure technical support and mentoring of the young women and men to ensure the business is successful in the short – term.
Phase III is a period of consolidation of the business and the project ensures that the young entrepreneurs have access to information about the business environment and existing services relevant to their business idea. The project will facilitate linkages with other programs and services so that long term sustainability of the businesses is ensured.
High-level field visit by government, donors and national partners
Youth from a beneficiary group in Sana'a governorate voiced their and aspirations and business ideas today to a high level delegation that included Muammar al-Eryani, Minister of youth, Katsu Yoshie Hayashi, Ambassador of Japan, Gustavo Gonzalez, UNDP Senior Country Director, Omar Abdul-Ghani, Deputy-Minister of MoPIC, Hasan Al-Hubaishi, Secretary General of the Cabinet of Ministers / Prime Minister’s Office and Ameen Juman, Deputy Secretary of the Capital who visited the project.
The delegation met with the youth while they were painting and doing other small scale rehabilitation at Salim al-Sabah School. The field visit is a good example of the high priority that the government, together with the international community, places on creating employment opportunities for young women and men in a country where recent developments have reversed the course of economical gains.
“We need women and youth to be engaged in and enthusiastic about realizing their talents and starting their own businesses,” said Senior Country Director Gustavo Gonzalez. “By empowering young people, Yemen is investing in its most valuable asset.”
The Minister of Youth and the Deputy of the Sana'a Mayor’s office both expressed their support to the implementation of the business ideas and aspirations that the youth spoke of during the visit. "It is very refreshing to see those youth in high spirit after they were so devastated and now the approach brought life to them again," says the Minister of Youth Moammer al-Eryani.
Young people in Yemen ask for nothing more than opportunities
The Ambassador of Japan believes that the sight of youth working is what the country needs. “The young people are the future of the country,” he says. The program of the visit included a short presentation about the 3x6 approach by UNDP’s implementing partner For All Foundation, with specific reference to the first phase where youth acquired painting and rehabilitation skills, which they were able to demonstrate to the visitors during the visit to this conflict-affected school in Sana'a.
Through this project initiative, young women and men have painted more than 10 schools and public places and have received business skills training. Today, they all spoke about their business ideas that they have been developing through the bi-weekly training sessions. In Phase II, these businesses ideas will be implemented with their own savings and the contribution from UNDP. The project has engaged micro finance institutes who are ready to provide additional finances to the business ideas through a loan.
The youth unemployment rate, approximately 60% in Yemen, is one of the alarming issues for the government and society in general and contributes to fueling instability; a serious situation for a country undergoing a complex transitional period.
The governmental representatives believe that this project is very promising providing an alternative for youth and platform to harness the creativity of young people; reducing the risk of being recruited by non-state actors.
"Unemployment is the worst enemy of youth and it could lead youth to danger," says Omar Abdul-Aziz, the deputy of the Minister of Planning and International Cooperation.
Youth have all shown much enthusiasm by theprospect of having a sustainable income, and they have high spirits unlike before. "Before this project started, I was negative but now I learned to build everything from scratch," says one of the youth beneficiaries to the government representatives.
Indeed, the newly introduced 3x6 approach is generating an immediate source of income, fosters the culture of saving and provides youth with sustainable livelihoods.
The youth say that they have not only learned job skills but have also learned to save which helps them to build resiliency in their lives. They learn how to be ambitious and how to look differently to life. “Now, I know that I can start from zero,” says one of the youth to the delegates.
Another young woman said that she always had a project in her mind but did not have confidence in her abilities to implement her idea. “Now I am sure that I will succeed to open my cafeteria,” she says and then addressed the audiences, “I will invite you all to visit my cafeteria on opening day,” she concluded with visible pride.