Tackling Youth Unemployment Through Entrepreneurship and Skills Training
In Tanzania, young people like Asia Abdallah often face an uphill battle when entering the job market. With few formal sector jobs available, many turn to entrepreneurship. But without the practical skills to get started, entrepreneurship can present challenges. TechnoServe is equipping youth with the skills they need to gain formal employment or run their own successful businesses.
youth unemployment in Tanzania
youth unemployment in Tanzania
For 24-year-old Asia Abdallah, there was a time when life felt meaningless. Asia was raised in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, with four siblings. Her mother was the sole provider for the family, and they often struggled to pay the bills and put food on the table. “Some days, we didn’t have food in our house, and my parents were unable to bring any home,” Asia says.
One day, her aunt got into an accident, and the family needed money to cover the hospital bills. Asia wanted to help, but had no job and no source of income. “I had nothing to do other than stay at home without focusing on my future,” she recalls.
The Challenge of Youth Unemployment
Asia’s problem is not uncommon. In Tanzania, 800,000 youth enter the job market annually, with only about 40,000 formal jobs available. Entrepreneurship presents a path toward economic independence for youth, particularly in areas where formal employment opportunities are scarce. But young people often lack the practical skills they need to be successful as entrepreneurs.
TechnoServe’s Pan-African Youth Entrepreneur Development (PAYED) program, a partnership with Citi Foundation, equips young entrepreneurs like Asia with the skills they need to gain formal employment or run their own businesses.
New Skills Help Young Adults Stand Out in a Competitive Job Market
In Tanzania, there is a strong link between low levels of educational attainment and youth underemployment. Almost 70% of children between the ages of 14 to 17 are not enrolled in secondary education. Girls, in particular, are vulnerable to dropping out of school or never attending at all. However, even when youth get an education, they often graduate without the skills they need for quality employment.
Asia was well aware of these challenges, and they made her concerned for her future.“I worried about facing the competitive job world,” she explains. “It’s full of intelligent and educated people, while I didn’t even have a proper education. At the time, I lacked the inner strength and confidence to see life positively.”
When Asia joined the PAYED program in January 2019, she began to attain both the business and personal skills needed to forge her own path in life. This training included:
- Personal effectiveness: TechnoServe trainers help youth develop short and long-term goals, practice good decision-making, and learn effective communication and time management skills.
- Professional effectiveness: Youth gain essential employability skills, identify potential careers, learn how to write a CV, prepare for interviews, and discuss employment barriers.
- Entrepreneurship: Youth begin to understand the characteristics of a successful entrepreneur and develop a personal mission and vision.
- Financial management: Youth learn how to separate personal and business finances, develop a cash flow budget, and identify different credit sources.
- Business planning: Participants learn how to generate business ideas, develop business plans, and present them to a group.
With the personal and professional skills Asia acquired from the training, she gained confidence and the ability to express herself in front of other people, an essential first step when applying for jobs.
Business Training Programs are a Promising Solution to Youth Unemployment
Through the training on “employability,” Asia learned about available employment opportunities in her community that reflected her qualifications and skills. TechnoServe trainers helped Asia identify catering as a job that would be a good match. She also learned techniques for successful job interviews. With these new skills, Asia soon applied, interviewed, and received a job offer to work as a caterer amongst service providers at Agha Khan hospital.
I’m proud of my job because it brings bread to the table. I’m also proud of the life skills that I learned because they give me more courage to pursue my dreams and think about my future.”
— Asia Abdallah, entrepreneur, Tanzania
The PAYED program also taught Asia crucial financial management skills. Today, she not only earns a regular income, but knows how to manage her money and balance her spending and saving. With this new income, she can help her mother with household expenses while also saving money for the restaurant and catering business she hopes to open in the future.
A New Generation of Leaders
Asia’s TechnoServe trainer was one of the first people with whom she felt confident expressing her opinion — but the trainer won’t be the last. “Having the opportunity to share and exchange ideas with my trainer gave me more courage to face life’s challenges,” she says. “Now, my future is very bright because I have an income.”
Young people like Asia represent a new generation of leaders in Tanzania and beyond. Ensuring these young people gain meaningful economic opportunities is essential to reducing poverty and ensuring secure, stable societies.
“I’m proud of my job because it brings bread to the table,” Asia says. “I’m also proud of the life skills that I learned because they give me more courage to pursue my dreams and think about my future.”