YOUTH SOCIO ECONOMIC EMPOWERMENT THROUGH INCLUSIVE BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT & INNOVATIVE SOCIAL SERVICE DELIVERY
Implementing period: 2004-2009
To enable disadvantaged rural and peri-urban young women and men (ages 14-30) in five selected regions to create/participate in activities leading to their increased socio-economic empowerment, through inclusive support for business creation and innovative community-based service delivery.
The project enabled disadvantaged rural and peri-urban young women and men countrywide to create 212 youth led-businesses and provided 98 grants to local community-based service organizations. Thanks to an additional grant from USAID, business creation activities were scaled up, despite the reluctance of commercial banks to provide loans to start-up businesses.
The grant objective has been reached: youth from rural and peri-urban areas have been involved in economic activities (through self employment and creation of new working places) and benefited from non-formal education through the strengthened NGOs and CBOs.
A. The competitiveness grant program was successfully implemented through 25 grants offered to Youth Resource Centers, 26 grants for NGOs active in youth field, as well as 47 small grants for Local Youth Councils. The JSDF funds contributed to the extension of the Youth Resource Centers Network and the creation of youth friendly spaces in rural areas where such spaces were not available before. These centers provide services to approximately 27,000 young people
B. Business Development
The JSDF facilitated the creation of 143 businesses throughout 17 rayons, providing a wide ranges of services (63%) production (33%) and trade (4%). These businesses created over 350 jobs between 2005 and 2008, with 254 jobs going to young men and 100 going to young women. Income for these workers increased by close to 50% between 2005 and 2010, with the average salary jumping from MDL898 to MDL1,340.
Development Agencies (DAs) were hired under the project and in close coordination with the IDA-financed RISP project to provide technical support to these young beneficiaries in the preparation of business plans and loan applications, various consultancies and post-establishment support to ensure a successful startup for these businesses. The DAs conducted 513 consultancies on topics ranging from Marketing/Sales, Management and Finance/Accounting. Most of these consultanties/training were provided on an individual basis to meet the specific needs of the beneficiaries. Beyond consultancy, the Development Officers conducted systematic monitoring of the businesses. During the post creation assistance the DAs continued to provide monitoring and support to these young usinesses. Each visit would consist of an evaluation of the business, identification of its challenges and consultation to ensure their viability. An important lesson from this grant is that this relatively low-cost support which took place AFTER a beneficiary obtained a bank loan and AFTER the business was established was a key determinant in the sustainability of the beneficiaries’ enterprises and help in ensuring a high repayment rate of their loans.
Total investment into these businesses represented approximately MDL 16 million (MDL 6 million from banks, MDL1.6 million personal contribution and another MDL 8 million of matching grants). The average grant size was approximately US$5,000 (50% of investment), the average personal contribution $1,000 (10% of investment) and the average bank loan was $4,000 million for a total investment of about $10,000 per business and about $4,000 per job created.
The success of the component led to a follow up USAID grant of USD350,000 that helped create an additional 69 business.
C. Development of Gender Capacity
24 representatives (of which 21 were women) of youth NGOs, members of local youth councils, youth workers, teachers, representatives of NGOs with gender profile benefited of the Training of Trainers (TOT) on Gender. The main objective of the TOT was to strengthen the local/national trainers# capacity in dealing with gender issues, presuming that the local / national trainers will apply the acquired skills and methodologies to promote the same information on gender issues and the importance of human factor in the planning, implementation and evaluation of youth activities. An international consultant was hired and conducted a well-received training session for local trainers on topics ranging from gender concepts to gender equality, human rights, women and gender centered activities, gender and policy making, gender analysis and gender mainstreaming, gender indicators, gender and civil society role, gender in youth work and development or own gender training programs.
D. Monitoring & Evaluation
This component initially suffered considerable delay but was eventually developed in 2008, with the help of an international consultant. A database was established and updated for components: A (Grant lines), B (Economic development), C (Gender Capacities Development), D (Participatory monitoring and evaluation of youth activities) and E (Involvement of regional youth representatives and project audit). Local monitoring and evaluation consultants as well as representatives of development agencies ACA, MEGA, CDR, CCA were involved in the process of data collection for the first two components. The system provided a useful too to assess the progress of the activities launched by the project and for project internal evaluation.
E. Involvement of Regional Youth Representatives (focal points) in YSEEP implementation and Grant audit.
The five regional consultants were contracted to monitor and evaluate the activities of YRCs, NGOs and LYCs financed under YSEEP. A set of instruments was developed for a comprehensive assessment of the activities: YRC/NGO evaluation card, in depth discussions with the LPA representatives and a questionnaire for the evaluation of services by the young people, as well as “interview guidelines for LYCs” for LYC chairpersons, adult coordinators and LPA representatives. From May 2008 to May 2009, the regional consultants conducted about 140 visits to the YRCs, NGOs, LYCs and LPAs to collect data and have issued five M&E reports. The regular annual audits did not reveal any irregularities in the implementation of the grant.