The Collins Dictionary’s word of the year for 2022 was ‘permacrisis’, meaning an extended period of instability and insecurity. In 2022, young people living in conflict and crisis-affected regions faced major, intersecting crises, including the continued COVID-19 pandemic, global economic recessions and the escalating climate emergency.
Over the course of the year, SPARK developed a new organisational strategy to ensure our work becomes more localised, effective and impactful. We worked with experts, researchers and advisors on refugee streams, conflict maps, human development index data and climate maps to foresee where and how development support will be most needed in the coming years. Launched in January 2023, Strategy 2030 will guide us over the coming seven years to deliver impact on job creation in fragile and conflict-affected regions across three key sectors: green business, agri-business and digital technology.
1,852 people were matched with an internship or traineeship position
Enabling youth to access jobs through internships/traineeships and actual job matching
Working to address the mismatch between the skills acquired by young people and the needs of the labour market, SPARK matched up 535 youths to existing jobs in local businesses. We also facilitated access to internships or traineeships to skill up 1,852 marginalised youth globally; many of these positions were remote digital opportunities, enabling vulnerable young people to access international work experience remotely.
SPARK’s Akazi Keza programme in Burundi, financed by the Dutch Minsitry of Foreign Affairs, builds the skills of young people in rural and peri-rural communities and reforms the labour market so that young people have the support and recognition they need to build a career. In 2022, approximately 700 young people benefited from training that resulted in 351 young people gaining internships and 216 going on to secure a permanent job.
Hear from an intern
Title: Employee (former intern)
Organisation: Bancobu Bank
Gloria, a 27-year-old law graduate, had been unemployed for years before she was matched to an internship by SPARK’s partner, Infinity Group. Gloria’s training through the programme prepared her well for the new role and allowed her to thrive amidst the busy corporate services environment. After her internship, Gloria successfully applied for a position at Bancobu, a major bank in Burundi, where she works in marketing and client relationships.
Gloria says she started out wanting to find a job, but now she wants to build a career. “The training and internship taught me much,” she says. “But it also gave me the confidence to apply [for jobs].”
4,744 entrepreneurs received access to finance and 3,534 entrepreneurs received business skills training
Jobs are created by supporting promising, high-potential entrepreneurs (startups) with coaching, access to finance and markets
SPARK’s Local Employment in Africa for Development programme, financed by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, worked with a local NGO, FIDEL, which is focused on promoting the green and circular economy in the Gabes region. Together, we established an incubator to provide support to micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), startups and agricultural clusters, fostering collaboration in a sustainable environment. As a result of SPARK’s work in Gabes, 117 jobs and 31 new businesses were created, while a further 53 MSMEs (50% of which are owned by women) were scaled up. SPARK also facilitated 53 grants for entrepreneurs, 25 of whom were women.
Hear from an entrepreneur
Organisation: Taghamuta Agro
Dhouha founded Taghamuta Agro with a vision to transform the agricultural landscape in Tunisia. The company purchases ingredients directly from local farms to produce artisanal high-end foods, benefiting Tunisian farmers and consumers alike. With support from SPARK’s Local Employment in Africa for Development programme, the startup was trained in business planning, administration, human resource management, business law and financing. This experience helped Dhouha to scale up operations, improve relationships with suppliers and expand her company’s brand and product range. Taghamuta Agro went on to create six new job opportunities – an increase in the team size from five to eleven full-time employees – and the company is now offering internships for Tunisian graduates. “We feel proud when we open a new vacancy,” says Dhouha. “We consider creating jobs as a factor of our success.”
1,027 businesses have been supported to grow and 4,008 jobs were created in directly supported businesses
Jobs are created by scaling growth-oriented SMEs through coaching and facilitating better access to finance and markets
Throughout the year, we supported businesses globally to start or scale up their operations, resulting in the creation of 2.6 new jobs per business. In Türkiye, where women-led businesses face many barriers to reaching new markets for business growth, SPARK has been supporting business-owners to access online marketplaces and digitalise their processes. SPARK’s Economic Resilience through COVID-19 programme, financed by Qatar Fund for Development, equips women business-owners to access new markets through e-commerce.
Alongside the NGO, Innovation for Development (I4D), women businesses-owners and cooperatives set up stores on the e-commerce website, Turkish Souq. Tailored one-to-one coaching sessions were also arranged with 12 selected businesses, and participants reported that these coaching sessions were crucial in equipping them to enter the digital marketplace. SPARK also provided selected businesses with training and technical support on issues like stock storage management, online marketing and sustainable production methods.
Hear from our partner
Name: Dogan Celik
Organisation: Innovation for Development (I4D)
“Partnering with SPARK is a flexible and result-based collaboration and co-creation with a dedicated team available for support whenever needed from idea generation to implementation. SPARK is an organisation that brings a fresh approach in terms of flexibility and less bureaucracy. This is extremely vital for local NGOs like us to operate in highly volatile contexts.”
5 higher education curriculums were developed or improved, benefiting thousands of students
Higher education curricula and career centres become stronger and give youth access to market-relevant skills and entrepreneurship training.
Through the Jobs and Perspectives programme in Iraq, financed by the Dutch Minsitry of Foreign Affairs, SPARK reformed six public and private university degree programmes in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KR-I) and the Federal Iraq education systems. SPARK was also able to establish strong working relationships with the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research (MoHESR) in both KR-I and Federal Iraq. Both governments committed to the Bologna Process – an intergovernmental higher education reform process designed to raise standards of education. This is a major step towards enhancing the quality and recognition of Iraq’s higher education system, both domestically and internationally; this, in turn, will greatly enhance the employability of Iraqi youth.
Hear from our partner
Name: Ahmad Tajaldeen Jamous
Title: Programs Manager
“This partnership has allowed us to make a sustainable and positive impact in the communities we work with…[SPARK] have played a crucial role in raising the efficiency of our teams. They have contributed to the implementation of activities by sharing their expertise and experiences and conducting guidance sessions for our staff.”
Download full report
The Annual Report provides comprehensive information on SPARK’s activities throughout the preceding year. Published with the approval of the Supervisory Board and With Accountants registered accountants, the SPARK Annual Report is testament to the priority we place on transparency and accountability.