Strengthening Rural Youth Development through Enterprise

TechnoServe is partnering with The MasterCard Foundation to help rural young women and men in East Africa transition to economic independence. The Strengthening Rural Youth Development through Enterprise (STRYDE) program delivers a comprehensive package of services including skills training, business development and mentoring to young people ages 18 to 30 in Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda.

Context

Sub-Saharan Africa has the world’s fastest-growing population and the youngest. Today, the median age has dropped to 18 and there are 70 million more Africans under the age of 14 than there were a decade ago. And while other regions in the world experience a significant decrease in rural populations, sub-Saharan Africa will add an estimated 150 million people in rural areas by 2050.

In East Africa, rural youth remain economically disenfranchised. Many young people see farming as a last resort, while formal employment is difficult to find. A growing number of rural youth are migrating to urban areas, and those who stay often lack the skills and knowledge necessary to capitalize on available opportunities. In the long term, youth unemployment can hinder economic growth and lead to political and social unrest.

Opportunity

Agriculture in East Africa is a significant and growing sector of the economy and has the potential to create sustainable employment and income opportunities both on- and off-farm. Young people bring vitality and innovation to the workforce. With tremendous untapped potential, East Africa’s rural youth hold the key to the region’s future economic growth and success. By making agricultural employment more attractive, and equipping this group with the education and skills they need to engage in economic opportunities, TechnoServe aims to help rural youth become active contributors and financially independent members of their communities.

Strategy

TechnoServe and The MasterCard Foundation are partnering on an $11.5 million, four-year program to help rural young women and men in East Africa transition to economic independence. The Strengthening Rural Youth Development through Enterprise (STRYDE) program delivers a comprehensive package of services including skills training, business development and mentoring to young people ages 18 to 30 in Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda.

The program aims to equip 15,000 rural youth by 2015 with the skills and knowledge necessary to capitalize on economic opportunities and increase their incomes. As a result, the program plans to indirectly benefit more than 67,000 family members.

STRYDE draws on TechnoServe’s experience in both developing agricultural industries and promoting entrepreneurship. Through this program, young people will learn about economic opportunities and gain the market-ready skills to benefit from this demand.

Participants in the program take part in a three-month (80-hour) training program to develop life, entrepreneurship and career skills, followed by a nine-month follow-up program that includes business mentorship, employment linkages and linkage to financial institutions. Participants also have the opportunity to apply their skills in experiential business exercises, and take part in program-sponsored business plan competitions. The knowledge that the young women and men gain from STRYDE helps them identify the best economic opportunities for their skills and interests.

Results

A total of 7,105 young women and men have successfully graduated from the STRYDE program. The majority of STRYDE alumni are engaged in gainful employment.

In Kenya, out of the 2,759 beneficiaries that have completed training, 54 percent are currently running micro- and small enterprises, 17 percent have found wage employment and 16 percent are in school. In Uganda, out of the 1,692 beneficiaries who took part in the first two cohorts, 79 percent are running micro- and small enterprises, 12 percent are in employment and two percent are in school.

In Rwanda, STRYDE is collaborating with the Ministry of Youth and Information and Communication Technology (MYICT) and the government’s Youth Empowerment for Global Opportunities (YEGO) program to scale its curriculum model nationwide. TechnoServe is also directly supporting the MYICT to develop a Youth Livelihoods Index and Rwanda Job Market / Youth Entrepreneurship Industry Strategic Plan to guide future efforts to tackle youth unemployment.

Overall, STRYDE has helped participants become better equipped to find employment, to establish or enhance businesses, and to provide reliable sources of income for themselves and their families. As a comprehensive package of youth employment services, STRYDE represents a model and important learning opportunity for future youth intervention programs.

Partners

The MasterCard Foundation advances microfinance and youth learning to promote financial inclusion and prosperity. Through collaboration with committed partners in 48 countries, The MasterCard Foundation is helping people living in poverty to access opportunities to learn and prosper. An independent, private foundation based in Toronto, Canada, the Foundation was established through the generosity of MasterCard Worldwide at the time of the company’s initial public offering in 2006.