Youth-to-Youth Fund - Improving work opportunities for young people in the Mano River Union: Public-Private Partnership

Aimed at youth-led organizations in Guinea, the ILO Youth Employment Network, in collaboration with UNIDO, FCP, and the World Bank, launched a competitive grant scheme. The call was for innovative small-scale youth employment projects, and supported young people in their transition from being passive recipients to active participants in the creation of employment and the impact this can have on the promotion of peace. Successful applicants were awarded a grant of between USD 5,000 and 20,000 in tandem with the provision of capacity building assistance in order to support project implementation.

Facts and figures
Partners UNIDO; the World Bank (WB); the International Olympic Committee (IOC); Fonds de Consolidation de la Paix (FCP); A Ganar
Beneficiary Countries Guinea
Timeframe January 2010 - August 2011
Budget IOC - USD 100,000
WB - 129,000
UNIDO - 350,000

Over the past ten years sub-Saharan Africa has seen the highest increase in the young working age population (34 per cent). Today, 200 million people are aged 15 to 24 in this region. Youth unemployment rates (which are on average 12 per cent) do not adequately describe the depth of the employment challenges for young women and men in Africa. According to ILO estimates, 72 per cent of the youth population in sub-Saharan Africa earns less than USD 2 per day. As it stands, there are not enough jobs created to absorb the hundreds of thousands of young people who join the labour force every year. With every increase in the number of unemployed young people, there is a higher likelihood of conflict in a country, putting political stability at risk.

In 2010, in Guinea the situation was particularly alarming – the GNI per capita was USD 360, compared to an average of USD 516 among low-income countries in sub-Saharan Africa, and an average across sub-Saharan Africa as a whole of USD 1,175.

The Youth Employment Network (YEN) has a long history of working with youth organizations in developing countries. Although many of these organizations have viable and innovative ideas for youth employment projects, many lack the financial or human capital to implement them.

The response

In addition to assistance with project design, project management seminars, accounting and evaluation tools, monthly on-site visits, and peer review meetings, the Youth-to-Youth fund provided  beneficiaries with fundamental soft skills. By partnering with A Ganar and the International Olympic Committee, the inclusion of the “Employability through Sports” curriculum was made possible.

This innovative curriculum uses football and a blend of field and classroom activities – combining physical and intellectual elements to achieve meaningful results. By the end of the training course beneficiaries have been schooled in six key soft skills, resulting in increased employability.

The method is particularly useful when targeting – as YEN does - disadvantaged young women and men who come from difficult circumstances and have weaker educational backgrounds. Indeed, research suggests that being involved in sport can equip young people with specific core and soft skills that play a crucial role in the success of entrepreneurs (Harvard University estimates that a person’s level of achievement in their career is 80 per cent determined by soft skills and only 20 per cent by hard skills).


In total USD 245,877 was distributed to 16 projects (174 applications were received) in the form of grants. With the additional support of capacity building and sport, the following results are estimated:
  • The creation of 479 new sustainable decent jobs for youth in Guinea. The average increase in revenue for each beneficiary was expected to be 142 per cent.
  • The establishment of 38 new cooperatives with an average expected annual profit of USD 2,042.
The estimated average grant contribution per new job created was USD 513; each will provide a person with a long-term sustainable income. Beyond income these jobs also provide individuals with a sense of well-being, increased social capital, dignity, independence and opportunities for personal growth. Furthermore, as a result of these 16 projects, communities will benefit from increased environmental protection and reforestation, new spaces for dialogue and discussion on youth issues, support against rural exodus, reduced dependence on imported vegetables, and added value to specific economic sectors such as red oil and kernel.

For example, one project established a radio station discussing various topics revolving around issues afflicting youth, while another sees the promotion of youth employment through the mechanization of palm oil production.

A full list of the initiatives supported is available at: /public/english/employment/yen/whatwedo/projects/y2y/guinea/winners.htm

Integrated within, and integral to, the capacity building was the aspect of soft skills through sport funded by the IOC and implemented in partnership with A Ganar. As a result of this partnership element the following was achieved:
  • The ‘employability through sport’ course was adapted to the context in Guinea to ensure its effectiveness;
  • Two trainers from A Ganar in Brazil extended training capacity to nine trainers from Guinea, thus equipping them with the required skills to train youth;
  • 470 young women and men from Guinea completed the training and as a result improved their soft skills.