The Skills Training and Education Programme: Supporting youth to have economic impact in Lebanon and Jordan

In October 2022, SPARK launched the Skills Training Education Programme (STEP) in Jordan and Lebanon, supported by the Islamic Development Bank and the Abdul Aziz al Ghurair Refugee Education Fund. Working with young people, both refugees and youth from host communities, STEP offers vocational training (TVET), startup and business skills development, internships and job placements, as well as access to finance for businesses to enhance employment opportunities and economic recovery. 

So, what ‘STEPs’ have been taken so far? 


Hackathons and seed funding for startups

Over 260 entrepreneurs in Lebanon and Jordan took part in hackathons as part of the Startup Roadshow 4 by our partner, Jusoor. 85 startups advanced to incubation, receiving training in product development, finance, marketing, legal processes and investor presentations.

The incubation phase provided opportunities to interact with investors and potential partners, fostering growth and collaboration. Participants benefited from over 670 hours of training sessions. Three Jordan-based startups – Watr, Tadwer and File in Tab – were announced as winners during the Amman Demo Day, receiving $7,000, $5,000, and $3,000 respectively. During the Demo Day in Beirut, seed funding was awarded to three outstanding teams: Exotech, Liber, and Ejet Elkahraba, receiving $7,000, $5,000, and $3,000 respectively.

Beirut Demo Day

Enhancing roles for women in male-dominated tech industry

According to a report by the International Finance Corporation, only 23% of the digital workforce in Lebanon is made up of women. A lack of digital literacy, legal frameworks and perception of freelancing all contribute to this. Joining a Full Stack Developer boot camp with SPARK’s partner, SE Factory, 92 recent graduates in Lebanon learnt to code. 50% of the graduates were from refugee backgrounds and 40% were women. Notably, 48 of these graduates have gone on to successfully secure jobs in the tech industry. Shifaa, who now works as a full-time remote employee for a company in the USA, is one of those graduates. 

Meet Shifaa

Work experience boosting youth unemployment

In Jordan, the gap between academic knowledge and practical skills exacerbates high youth unemployment rates, particularly among women. Through the STEP programme Awad Al Khatib, a 22-year-old fresh graduate, received employability training from our partner, Education For Employment, and was matched with a job placement in a startup. Awad’s experience evolved into a full-time position as an Account Manager.

Meet Awad

Women-led cooperatives: Stronger with mentorship

Manal Mamou and Maysaa Alsaghyer, Syrian refugees in Lebanon, transformed adversity into opportunity by establishing MOUNET Al DAR cooperative. Driven by the need to support their families amidst crisis, they ventured into food processing. With STEP’s programme support, they overcame challenges, launched their brand, and empowered women in their community through employment.

Meet Manal & Maysaa

Entrepreneurs developing climate-resilient solutions

Rahaf Abu Mayaleh is a 21-year-old entrepreneur who identified a gap in health education tools for children aged 2 to 8. Her journey began as a health skills trainer, where she noticed the lack of innovative and eco-friendly resources available for teaching basic health skills to children. Motivated by the need for change, Rahaf became an advocate for climate action and improving children’s education.

Meet Rahaf

Locally-founded solutions to Lebanon’s electricity crisis

The report ‘Cut Off from Life Itself: Lebanon’s Failure on the Right to Electricity’ emphasises the critical role of electricity for daily life and societal participation. It argues that access to reliable, safe, and affordable electricity is a fundamental human right. Abdulkader Khateeb, founder of ‘Ejet Elkahraba’, addresses Lebanon’s chronic electricity crisis through a user-friendly app, providing real-time updates on power availability and outages.  

Meet Abdulkader

Connecting employers with universities to address skills gap

The STEP programme collaborates with universities and businesses to bridge the gap between education and the needs of the job market. Solutions include emphasising soft skills, promoting internships and fostering collaboration between academia and industry to enhance graduate employability through modernised curricula and career guidance.

Read more

Vocational training opportunities help refugees secure employment

Angham, a Syrian refugee in Jordan, halted her education at 13 due to the upheaval of the Syrian Civil War. Despite yearning to resume her studies, familial obligations outweighed. In Jordan, limited job prospects compounded her struggles. Yet, through STEP, she pursued manicure training, finding both financial stability and personal fulfilment in the beauty industry.

Meet Angham

Jordanian youth tackling mismanagement in water delivery

WATR, first place winner of the Startup Roadshow 4, revolutionises water delivery by connecting tanker drivers with customers through a smart app, ensuring timely service and transparent pricing. Tanker owners benefit from regular clients, while customers enjoy features like location tracking and convenient payments. 

Meet WATR team