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April 5, 2016

Enterprise must become a viable career path for young Africans

SPARK has recently opened a new office base in Tunisia while also expanding the existing Somalia office in order to team up with local partners to create employment opportunities in some the worlds’ most volatile regions. SPARK’s new programme LEAD (Local Employment in Africa) will focus on providing access to finance, markets and training to youth between 15 – 35 years in order to stem the tide of irregular migration from North Africa. In each region multi-national companies are already being targeted, such as Coca-Cola and Danone, to encourage collaboration with local SMEs.

Migrant communities

SPARK’s local partners IACE in Tunisia and Shaqadoon in Somalia are in contact with a wide range of youth groups who are at risk of migration and trafficking due to the low employment rates. Although statistics are notoriously difficult to come by, estimates say between 5 – 9% of the resident populations are migrating.

SAPRK’s programme focuses on several sectors in which economic growth has been identified. In Tunisia agriculture, food processing and sustainable tourism have been identified while in Somalia it will be on renewable energy, livestock, agriculture, fisheries and food processing industries.

Women

Gender equality will also be strengthened by aiming to include 40% of women in the economic creation activities. In Tunisia, SPARK will cooperate with local partner, TAMMS, Tunisia’s strongest female organisation in the country. Although relatively women migrate less than men, they are more vulnerable to abuse trafficking. Increases in women’s income also causes diminishing migratory pressures as with increasing family incomes men are less likely to leave.

Main aims

SPARK aims to set up 135 new enterprises among the young population. Alongside this 315 already established companies will be supported in order to build on existing structures. Overall, SPARK hopes to create 4000 sustainable jobs directly and 22,000 indirect jobs, making social enterprise a viable alternative to migration in the long term. SPARK has a track record of introducing entrepreneurship education and SME assistance with financing, coaching and training in different country contexts and has built up a vast amount of knowledge and material in Arabic which is conflict sensitive and tuned to an Islamic cultural context. SPARK has particular experience with getting results in unstable and Islamic contexts such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Mali, Somalia and Syria.

County Contexts

In 2014, 16.405 Somalian and 16.000 Tunisian migrants relocated to Europe. Young people especially consider migrating due to growing youth unemployment and lack of job prospects. In Libya hundreds of thousands of migrants pass through the country or are stranded turning it into a safe haven for human traffickers. These countries also suffer from internal radical Islamic conflicts. In Somalia, especially in the south, Al Shabab poses a threat to the country’s security. This restlessness causes many Internally Displaced people (IDPs) to move to the more stable regions of Puntland and Somaliland which leads to additional pressure on the labour market these regions. LEAD activities will focus on the more stable areas where unemployment is higher but activities will also be carried out in the south – thus also reducing the flow from the south northwards.