August 19, 2022

IGNITE Conference: September 13, 2022

SPARK is to host the 9th edition of its annual IGNITE conference on Tuesday 13th September this year. The event, taking place in the heart of Amsterdam, attracts entrepreneurs, NGOs, governments, policy-makers, incubators, philanthropies and over 40 local organisations from across fragile and conflict-affected regions of the Middle East and Africa.

What to expect from the 9th IGNITE conference

The annual conference is the only event worldwide that focuses on job creation for youth, women and refugees living in emerging economies. SPARK, chose this year’s theme – Reimagine Jobs – because of what we call the multiple, intersectional problems facing youth today. 

Simon van Melick, Programme Manager at SPARK and founder of the IGNITE conference said: “The climate crisis, COVID-19 and the digital revolution are dramatically changing the jobs we have and the way we work. The IGNITE conference brings together stakeholders from across the world’s most fragile regions to discuss how the most vulnerable people – youth, refugees, women – can stay included in the global economy.”

Winners of startup competition celebrate on stage © 2018, SPARK
Interactive workshops spark discussions during IGNITE 2019 © 2019, SPARK
Host, Femi Oke, Senior Presenter at Al Jazeera English will again host IGNITE 2022 © 2018, SPARK
Interactive workshops spark discussions during IGNITE 2019 © 2019, SPARK

Keynote speakers

The event’s spectacular venue, the Muziekgebouw, which overlooks Amsterdam’s IJ River, will this year play host to over 400 experts and stakeholders involved in youth employment, entrepreneurship and higher education. Main stage panellists and keynote speakers include (among others) Mr. Raouf Mazou, UNHCR’s Assistant High Commissioner for Operations; Mr. Alessandro Villa, Deputy Head of Unit at the Directorate-General for International Partnerships for Central Asia and Middle East, European Commission; Mr. Rowan Barnett, Head of Europe, Middle East and Africa; Mrs. Sonia Ben Jafaar, CEO of Abdulla Al Ghurair Foundation for Education; and Prof. Alexander Betts, Professor of Forced Migration and International Affairs, and Senior Fellow in Politics at Brasenose College at the University of Oxford.

Funders and philanthropies

Over 20 global funders and philanthropies are expected to join the event, including the European Union, ENABLE (the Belgian Development Agency) and With event partners including the IKEA Foundation, Islamic Development Bank, Qatar Fund for Development, Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, International Finance Corporation and the DIHAD Humanitarian Foundation, the IGNITE conference promises to bring together stakeholders from both public and private sector, Europe and the Gulf, and bridge political divides in order to discuss the important issue of jobs for youth.


The one-day conference, which is open to all and will be livestreamed, also features over 12 breakout workshops on a range of subjects including green entrepreneurship, digital skills for refugees, fintech for financial inclusion, digitalisation for SMEs, remote work, gender inclusive entrepreneurship and localisation.

Startup Competition

A live startup competition with Startups Without Borders will see 10 entrepreneurs from Palestine, Iraq and Lebanon pitch on stage for the chance to win up to $10,000 to start their businesses.

Platform for youth and local organisations

Writing on social media, Nowar Rahmouni, a Syrian entrepreneur and former participant of SPARK’s programmes living in Lebanon, writes:

So excited to speak in such incredible conference as one of the Stichting SPARK speakers. What a great opportunity to attend the #iginte9 #ReimagineJobs”.

In order to advocate for more inclusive and sustainable economic development for the future, the IGNITE conference makes a strong effort to provide youth and local organisations with a platform to share their opinions and experiences directly with key policy-makers, NGOs and donors. Representatives from over 40 of SPARK’s local partner organisations from across the Middle East, North and Sub-Saharan Africa will be in attendence and entrepreneurs, innovators and youth changemakers will be centre stage.


Finally, attendees will have numerous opportunities to network with other guests coming from at least 25 different countries.

For full details about the IGNITE conference and to register:  

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