To link unemployed, under-skilled youth with financial services and practical skills development that will support them in securing meaningful and productive futures as workers or entrepreneurs.
The three main areas of work in Youth Economic Opportunities include:
- Practical Skills Training for Youth: MEDA's "100 Hours to Success" methodology includes financial literacy, entrepreneurship, and life skills development. Research and experience from previous interventions has shown that youth who are financial literate and contributing to savings are more confident and positive about their futures than those who are not.
- Access to Decent Work: MEDA works with youth, vocational training institutes, employers and other stakeholders on workplace safety, links to hands-on learning, and youth-friendly work environments. Linking youth to safe work with opportunities for learning and advancement is necessary for their long-term positive engagement in the economy. In addition, MEDA's "100 Hours to Success" methodology further ensures that youth have the skills and support to identify and maximize opportunities in their communities for long-term success in securing decent work or starting a viable enterprise.
- Mainstreaming Youth Financial Services: MEDA specializes in savings and loan product development, building the institutional capacity of our partner microfinance institutions and banks. Appropriate financial services can help young people save, borrow and invest wisely, protecting and growing their assets, and in some cases, starting microenterprises to support themselves and their families.
How does MEDA support youth in unlocking economic opportunities?
The world's population of young people has grown to 1.8 billion, the largest cohort in history. Approximately half survive on less than $2 per day. Unemployment rates for youth are consistently two to four times higher than adult unemployment rates. Though the number of youth in school and training is steadily growing globally, youth unemployment and underemployment reaches alarming levels in some countries and Sub Saharan Africa's labour force grows by approximately 8 million people per year. In many regions, like the Middle East and North Africa, youth exclusion and lack of opportunity has visibly contributed to social and economic instability.
In response to these market realities, innovative solutions are required to increase the number of youth engaged in productive employment and income generating activities. Youth is a key developmental stage during which positive financial behaviours and attitudes can be cultivated.
This is why reaching large numbers of youth with inclusive financial services, integrating them into the labour force, and supporting them to build the assets and skills required to secure meaningful employment or entrepreneurship opportunities for their futures are key priorities for MEDA.
- Within the past five years, MEDA has developed youth-focused products with 12 financial institutions
- 43,000 youth trained in life skills, business skills and financial education in Morocco
- Over 2,000 youth accessed loan products developed with MFI partners in Egypt and Morocco
- 1,600 working children in Egypt accessed literacy and numeracy training, computer and business skills through interactive programs that build self-esteem
- Over 23,300 youth in Egypt and Morocco opened savings accounts with YouthInvest banking partners. 96% report they now save, compared to 19% at project baseline
- 90% of the youth with savings accounts in Morocco say that the program has helped them move closer to their life goals
- 250 Ethiopian youth trained as agricultural sales agents who are now earning income by providing products, services and extension services within their villages and nearby areas
- In Ethiopia, over 750 business owners employing 2,000 working youth have received support to improve their workplaces - 90% of them have complied with two minimum work-place standards and continue to mitigate workplace hazards for their youth workers
- 1,729 youth (40% girls) have been formed into 133 savings groups in rural and urban Ethiopia. Over 400 youth have been linked to financial institutions and are opening saving accounts and depositing on a weekly basis
 Manpower Group. Youth Unemployment Challenge
and Solutions, 2012. http://www3.weforum.org/docs/Manpower_YouthEmploymentChallengeSolutions_2012.pdf
 World Bank, World Development Report on Jobs. 2013.