Creating sustainable jobs for young people in fragile states for 25 years. Read our story.
Youth solidarity in action
In 1994, the Bosnian war entered its second year. Although war crimes and atrocities were continuing, Western media coverage was fading fast. A group of young students in Amsterdam formed the Youth Solidarity with former Yugoslavia (SPARK) to highlight what was going on. They led huge marches through the streets of the Dutch capital, chanting their call to end the violence.
Creating opportunities to learn
After the Bosnian war and the breakup of former Yugoslavia, young people were eager to take matters into their own hands and rebuild their countries. However, they lacked the educational opportunities to do so.
SPARK began organising the first ever international summer schools in the region. Lecturers from all over the world travelled to teach young people from both sides of the conflicts in the midst of power shortages, lack of proper accommodation and unrest.
Growing businesses in Palestine
While the summer schools flourished in Tuzla, Pristina and Mitrovica, 2000km east of the Balkans, young graduates in the West Bank and Gaza were facing fruitless job prospects.
By joining forces with local organisations, SPARK established business incubators to help young startups thrive and create new jobs in an environment with 70% unemployment.
Rural farmers to agri-entrepreneurs
Amid sporadic violent conflict and economic instability, SPARK saw that in countries like Yemen and South Sudan, improving the agricultural sector combatted unemployment and boosted much-needed food security. Agribusiness support programmes, specifically tailored to local value chains, have transformed subsistence farmers into busy, commercial businesses and cooperatives.
The conflict in Syria continues to threaten young people’s access to education and decent work.
In response, SPARK partnered with hundreds of education institutes, governmental and local organisations to provide higher and vocational education scholarships for youth in neighbouring host countries.
SPARK is now the largest scholarship provider for Syrian refugees in the Middle East.
After 25 years of adapting to challenging contexts, SPARK has become an expert in six key services that create pathways to employment in fragile and conflict-affected regions.
By uniting the private and public sector, policymakers and NGOs, we provide young people with the tools they need to succeed in regions affected by conflict, climate crisis, and displacement.