January 30, 2018

Turning Africa’s Unemployed Youth into Entrepreneurs

Turning Africa’s Unemployed Youth into Entrepreneurs

Crisis, or opportunity?

Over 600 million people under the age of 25 live in Africa, and 72% of them are unemployed or underemployed. By 2035, the International Monetary Fund estimates the number of Africans joining the labor market each year will exceed that of the rest of the world combined. To meet this demand, 18 million jobs must be created each year for the next 20 years across sub-Saharan Africa.

Since launching microfinance services in Uganda 25 years ago, FINCA has been helping entrepreneurs access the tools needed for success. By doing so, FINCA has contributed to building local economies and creating jobs. Millions of youth across sub-Saharan Africa can benefit from access to financial services. In fact, many are already realizing the possibilities.

Felison, Auto Parts Shop

Twenty-six year-old Felison was only able to complete three years of high school. He lacked the money to continue paying the tuition. Determined to make a life for himself, he resolved to start his own business. Thanks to the helping hand of a FINCA loan, Felison opened an auto parts shop. Now, he even employs his cousin to keep up with the demand.

My life has completely transformed since I got my first loan from FINCA.

Deborah, Clothing Manufacturer

Deborah, 23 years-old, is proof that no amount of capital is too small to start a business. Using what little money she had, Deborah bought a single piece of cloth. Her brother came up with a design, and then she made it into a shirt. With the tiny income from this first sale, Deborah purchased four additional pieces of cloth. Now, her garment business is flourishing.

In the future, I want to grow much bigger. I want to own a shop and employ many people.

Suwilanji, Banking Agent

After graduating from university, Suwilanji realized it was still difficult to get ahead. She was searching for an opportunity grow, and decided to become a FINCA banking agent. In this role, Suwilanji conducts financial transaction services for FINCA clients. The commissions she earns as a FINCA agent have allowed her to support herself, and to begin exploring other business opportunities. Not only that, but also Suwilanji employs seven other young people in her community, where jobs are scarce.

Employees come to me and say, ‘You don’t know what you’ve done for my family.’

A massive opportunity

Douglas Kamwendo, CEO of FINCA Zambia, is leading the charge to turn unemployed youth into thriving entrepreneurs. “A lot of people can look at this as a problem and say, ‘What are we going to do with all these youngsters?’ But for me, for our economy, it’s a massive opportunity,” says Douglas.

Under Douglas’ leadership, FINCA Zambia is training youth in financial literacy and lending. These skills help youth understand, access, and use the tools they need to become self-reliant.

We need to create entrepreneurs out of them, and work hand in hand with these young people as partners, and co-create together the future.

Thanks to a partnership with Mastercard Foundation, FINCA is bolstering efforts to expand financial inclusion in sub-Saharan Africa. First, by broadening financial service delivery channels, such as through mobile phones and banking agents. Second, by strengthening staff capacity to deliver client needs. Third, by scaling up access to reliable savings. Finally, by conducting rigorous social performance measurement.