As part of an ongoing partnership to provide opportunity to young people in the Somali territories, Shaqodoon, Silatech and the American Refugee Committee (ARC) have launched the Somali Youth Employment and Entrepreneurship Program (SYEEP), an effort to bridge the gap between job seekers and the local business community. The primary component of the SYEEP program is the establishment of specially-designed “One Stop Shop” (OSS) centres for youth employment and business support services. One OSS is in the process of being open in each of the main Somali cities of Hargeisa, Bossaso and Mogadishu.
Silatech is a regional social initiative that works throughout the 22 Arab League countries to promote large-scale job creation, entrepreneurship, access to capital and markets, the participation and engagement of young people in economic and social development. Shaqodoon is a Somali NGO that provides Somali youth with skills training, access to work, internships and self-employment opportunities. The American Refugee Committee (ARC) is an international humanitarian organization that has worked in Somalia since 2011, offering services to improve the well-being of families and communities.
Although they comprise around two-thirds of the labour force, the unemployment rate among young Somalis is one of the highest in the world; according to a 2012 UNDP report, unemployment among Somalis aged 14-29 was 67 percent. Traditional formal-sector entry points into the workforce for Somali youth are very limited, and jobs leading to careers are scarce. Therefore, there is a growing need in Somalia to support the entry of youth into informal-sector employment.
Located in the main city centres, and easily accessible to both youth and employers, these One Stop Shops will serve as knowledge, advice and career guidance hubs for young job seekers and entrepreneurs, as well as for business owners looking for skilled youth. OSS services for job seekers will include soft skills training (CV writing, interview practice, communications, etc.), career guidance and work placement, and financial literacy training. Young entrepreneurs will be able to access entrepreneurship training, business development services, and linkages with partner microfinance institutions.
According to Mohamed Hassan Nur, Executive Director of Shaqodoon, linked the One Stop Shops to decreasing the massive youth unemployment that plagues the Somali territories, noting “Through this important program, this service will greatly contribute in decreasing the high unemployment of youth in the region.”
Silatech Director of Microenterprise Justin Sykes stressed the importance of Shaqodoon’s services to Somali youth, stating that “Given the staggering levels of youth unemployment that the Somali territories face, the holistic youth training and support services that Shaqodoon offers are precisely the innovative types of solutions needed to demonstrate that youth can be effectively empowered to become productive members of society.”
President and CEO of the American Refugee Committee Daniel Wordsworth said “The Somalia we know is entrepreneurial in spirit and reality. We are excited to join Silatech and Shaqodoon in preparing youth to enter Somalia’s thriving business community.”
The program will make use of existing SMS-based platform to connect young people directly with jobs, internships and training opportunities, while around 300 private sector employers will be registered and trained to participate in Shaqodoon’s own employment platform.
Supported by Silatech and ARC, the Somali Youth Employment and Entrepreneurship Program (SYEEP) builds on Shaqodoon’s existing Job and Business Information Service Centre (JBISC), as well as its training and support services to youth and employers. After their initial setup, these One Stop Shops will operate as social enterprises, charging reasonable market prices for their services (to youth, businesses and employers) and reinvesting any profits to ensure future sustainability.
SYEEP follows from past Silatech-Shaqodoon collaborations, which have focused on technical and vocational education and training, “Build Your Business” entrepreneurship training, as well as financial literacy, conflict resolution, and work readiness programs. In summer 2013, Shaqodoon and Silatech launched Somaliland’s first televised business plan competition for youth. Over 100 business plans were submitted, while in a nationally televised event in October 2013, eight finalists pitched their business ideas to a panel of respected businesses and community leaders. Winners received a package of training, mentoring and micro-grants to get their businesses off the ground.