Scaling Up Youth Employment in Agriculture Initiative

Project completed

Education systems in Southern Africa do not prepare youth for work; they cannot access or create economic opportunities and ignore the available options. The project will scale up in Southern Africa a model already tested by Switzerland in Tanzania. It will improve (self)-employment of 20’000 young women and men in Zimbabwe and Zambia by strengthening their skills and matching them with existing job opportunities, thereby contributing to the implementation of youth policies in-country and regionally.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Southern African Development Community (SADC)
Zambia and Zimbabwe
Employment & economic development
Vocational training
Agriculture & food security
Employment creation
Vocational training
SME development
Agricultural services & market
01.08.2018 - 31.12.2023
CHF  7’960’000
Background The majority of the youth reaching the labour market in Southern Africa (approx.6,3 million per year) do not meet the requirements to access formal education and/or technical vocational training. Access to finance is hindered by high costs of financing and distrust from providers of financial services. Private sector companies are reluctant to engage with youth as they are considered to lack the desired skills and competencies. Female youth face extra obstacles regarding access to self-employment opportunities due to cultural and social factors. SADC Member States (MS) have numerous policies in relation to youth development and empowerment, which have been translated at the national level, but they lack proper implementation and monitoring.
Objectives Improved livelihood and future prospects for 20’000 youth (at least 50 % young women) and 100’000 indirect beneficiaries in Zimbabwe and Zambia, by creating ‘green’ (self)-employment and enterprise development opportunities in agriculture, energy and other emerging sectors (Plastic waste / E-waste management, apiculture, urban agriculture etc.).
Target groups
  • Rural and urban youth (15 to 35 years old) - at least 50 % of women - who are unemployed, underemployed or provide unpaid labour, youths’ households
  • Government’s institutions, local training and vocational education institutes, private sector firms and value chain actors, financial institution, and hubs are supported / reinforced for improved employability / self-employment support to youth
Medium-term outcomes
  • 20’000 out of school youth (at least 50% young women) improve their employability skills. Youth with improved employability skills are matched with market opportunities and mentored into self - employment and enterprise development.
  • Improved ecosystem’s effectiveness (public, private and civil service providers and private sector companies) in providing employability and employment opportunities.
  • Improved youth employment policy environment at national and regional level through SADC, resulting in more effective strategies for youth employability and employment creation.

Expected results:  

  • 20,000 youth receive basic life, business skills and technical training and access (self)-employment;
  • 400 youth led-businesses are facilitated by the project and last more than one year;
  • USD 800’000 mobilised by savings and USD 400’000 by innovative financial solutions, will be used for business investment;
  • 30 private sector firms and value chain actors will provide opportunities to youth; 10 local training institutions and business development service providers are connected to the private sector;
  • Capacity building of key stake holders and multi stakeholder platform facilitation in youth employability and employment creation;
  • Pro-active support to SADC and national policy reviews and implementation;
  • Establishment of a Regional youth employment knowledge sharing network for ecosystem actors.

Results from previous phases:  

High structural unemployment (>80%)

Youth general perceptions- Both formal and informal employment are not attractive to youth; more potential in self-employment seen.

Key barriers to employment & key drivers to entrepreneurship- capital, skills & markets.

Policy- favourable youth policies at both country and SADC level but low enforcement at country level and no effective progress tracking.

Ecosystem weaknesses and potentials identified; training institutions’ curriculum to be adapted to industrial skills needs; private sector firms and financial institutions identified to provide training / support opportunities.

Value chain identified, both lucrative for youth and with traction from market actors.

Directorate/federal office responsible SDC
Credit area Development cooperation
Project partners Contract partner
International or foreign NGO
  • Other international or foreign NGO North

Coordination with other projects and actors In TZ and MOZ, SNV run Opportunities for Youth Employment (OYE), funded by SDC TZ and EKN in Moz; SIDA funded Climate Smart Agriculture and Biogas (Zim) and the Sustainable Nutrition for All project (Zambia) funded by SDC/GPFS. Within RPSA portfolio, with Social Accountability, CSTL, SAT and SKI programmes.
Budget Current phase Swiss budget CHF    7’960’000 Swiss disbursement to date CHF    5’328’429
Project phases Phase 2 01.05.2024 - 30.04.2028   (Current phase)

Phase 1 01.08.2018 - 31.12.2023   (Completed)