OYE strives to address youth unemployment in Tanzania


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Youth are the majority workforce in Tanzania with the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) 2020/21 Integrated Labor Force Survey showing that they take up to 83.1 percent of the country’s population.

Youth are the majority workforce in Tanzania with the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) 2020/21 Integrated Labor Force Survey showing that they take up to 83.1 percent of the country’s population.

Given this importance, there have been various efforts by the Govern­ment, the private sector, non-gov­ernmental organizations, and devel­opment partners focusing on youth development issues.

One such stakeholder is the SNV Netherlands Development Organiza­tion. SNV is a not-for-profit interna­tional development organization that makes a lasting difference in the lives of people living in poverty by help­ing them raise incomes and access basic services, through interventions in three sectors-agriculture, renew­able energy, and water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH).

Working in over 25 countries world­wide, in Tanzania, SNV has been one of the important stakeholders in youth development.

SNV Tanzania begun OYE imple­mentation in 2013 with funding from MasterCard Foundation (MCF), and later from 2016 to 2019 Switzerland Embassy (SDC) co-funded the project with MCF.

However, after the phasing out of MCF in Tanzania in 2018, The Royal Danish Embassy (DANIDA) in Tanza­nia partnered with SDC in funding the three-year OYE project from 2021 to March 2024.

With the closure of Royal Dan­ish Embassy in Tanzania planned for 2024, and since the support of the project from the Embassy will end 2023, OYE’s efforts addressing youth unemployment in the country are being challenged. As demand for addressing youth unemployment in the country is increasing, SNV urges for partnerships.

OYE implements Push-Match-Pull approach

The main objective of the program is to identify 20,500 rural out-of school youth and train them in market-rel­evant skills in order to improve their employability (push factor).

Once they have been trained in basic life skills and business development, these youngsters are supported to enter into internships or to start up youth-led enterprises (pull factor).

The program also facilitates market linkages/opportunities and access to start-up capital and investment funds for the trained youth (match factor).

The ultimate beneficiaries of the program are rural out-of school youth, with special attention for young wom­en (often young mothers).

OYE in Tanzania is part of the OYE Southern African Region, which provides a strong element of region­al learning and exchanges among the countries. Other countries are Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

OYE Project Manager in Tanzania, Herman Hishamu says the project is implemented by SNV with fund­ing from the Embassy of Switzerland in Tanzania and the Royal Danish Embassy (Danida) in Tanzania.

The project, which is currently in its second phase, will directly impact 4,250 out-of-school youth (18 to 30 years old) in Morogoro and Singida, and 15,300 indirectly (50:50 female-male).

“OYE implements market sys­tems development (MSD) aiming to improve the livelihoods of youth and influence a youth-friendly business environment, where the youth are being trained in employability skills, and connected with various stakehold­ers in the private and public sectors to empower them to become self-employed and employable in various economic activities. Such economic activities include horticulture, sun­flower farming, poultry farming, and renewable energy (improved cook stoves and solar-related businesses). Through these self-employment activities youth have been able to earn money and meet their needs, “says Hishamu.

He also explains that the project aims to deliver positive results in three key outcome areas which are employ­ability (self and wage-employment), creating a conducive employment eco­system for youth to empower them to compete in the labor market, and pro­viding them with education, training, coaching, networking, and learning.

“To achieve these results and enhance project sustainability, we work with the Government (from the village, district to youth-led ministeri­al level), the private sector, civil society organizations, local service providers (LSPs) and development partners.


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One of the OYE beneficiaries, Jackline Phabian at her restaurant.

The project is working in three dis­trict councils in Morogoro (Mvomero, Kilosa, and Morogoro Municipal), and six district councils in Singida (Singida rural, Singida Municipal, Mkalama, Iramba, Itigi, and Manyoni), covering 127 villages.

Apart from the government author­ities, six local service providers name­ly, MWAYODEO, MJUMITA, E-MAC, TACADECO, SEMA, and HAPA part­ner with SNV in implementing OYE project.

As MSD is at the center and sus­tainability of OYE, working with the private sector is a backbone and key aspect of the project. In achieving this, several private sector firms work with SNV through OYE in building sus­tainable business relationships with youth-led enterprises.

In Morogoro, SNV works with JWD Agro Inputs Center, ZOLA Electric, East-West Seed Company, Magole Farm (Envision) Limited, Tanzania Commercial Bank, OAK Improved Cook Stoves’ Company, Green Light Planet (Sunking), while in Singida the project is working with Kijiji cha Nyu­ki, Simu solar irrigation company, and the several private firm's members of Tanzania Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture (TCCIA).

The implementation of the OYE uses the approach of; Push, Match, and Pull where Pull is meant to iden­tify youth-friendly market opportuni­ties, Push for building youth capacity to meet market needs, and Match is meant to connect youth with business opportunities available in the private sector.

"This approach is used to stimulate and create sustainable jobs and entre­preneurial opportunities for the tar­geted youth, in partnership with key actors and stakeholders in the coun­try," says Hishamu.

Hishamu says the first phase of the project was implemented in vari­ous regions in the country where it reached 7,000 youths but the second phase is being implemented in only two regions and the target is to reach 4,250 youths and this is due to a lim­ited budget.

"We are appealing to various stake­holders and donors to come forward to support us because there are thou­sands of youth in the country who need access to this opportunity to lift themselves out of poverty," says Hishamu.

He says if they succeed in getting support from donors and other devel­opment partners, they will be able to reach out to many young people who are direct and indirect beneficiaries which will help alleviate the huge youth employment challenge in the country.

The Government comments on OYE

Speaking on behalf of Morogoro Regional Administrative Secretary, Flora Yongolo says the government is working with various institutions including SNV to improve people's lives where she urged young people to work hard as they have the opportu­nity to use different support they get to improve their living standards.

Yongolo advises the district coun­cils through disbursed youth loans to prioritize qualified OYE youth groups and ensure that they do what is intend­ed while urging the youth to be able to develop the capital they have which will help them continue to be trusted, upon their empowerment. She, how­ever, vows to address the challenges they face.

Morogoro Municipal Community Development Officer (Youth), Jack­line Mushi, says the council recognizes the OYE project and is one of the proj­ects that has brought great benefits to the youth who are out of school.

"We as the Government that owns the land have been closely involved with SNV in the implementation of this project and we have strengthened our efforts to ensure that target youths are available and provide education to young people about the benefits of par­ticipating in the project," says Jackline.

She says OYE is a good project and it is different from other projects because it is focused on empowering young people and not giving them money as it is for other projects but also providing equipment and tools for starting projects.

"This helps young people to develop themselves because there is a greater benefit to giving young people educa­tion and resources than giving them money, so the Government congratulates SNV," says Jackline.

Project stakeholders

Head – Employment and Income Domain at the Embassy of Switzer­land, Peter Sidler says the growing youth population in Tanzania is a huge opportunity for accelerating growth and shared wealth.

He says however, this is only the case if Tanzanian youths manage to access employment and income. For this to happen, Switzerland co-funds together with Denmark the OYE proj­ect that enables youth to gain relevant tailored technical, vocational and life skills trainings to prepare themselves to run successfully own businesses and overcome for instance negative gen­der norms and traditions that hamper their socio economic prospects.

“The OYE formula works, particu­larly as it is implemented in partner­ship with key players from the public and private sector. And its approach is implemented in a contextualized form in multiple countries in sub-Sahara Africa. Switzerland supports its implementation therefore here in Tanzania and since recently also in Zimbabwe and Zambia, allowing for mutual learning from best practices,” says Sidler.

The Executive Director of MWAYO­DEO, Venance Mlali says that as a civil society organization their work on the OYE project was to make the project recognizable at the village, county, dis­trict, and regional levels, the second task was to ensure the project benefi­ciaries (youth) are available.

“To reach the youth, we have been going to the villages and hold aware­ness meetings, then those who are found we register those with speci­fied criteria and then recruit them into training according to the project pro­cess,” says Mlali.

He says, at the beginning of the proj­ect implementation, SNV does a mar­ket scan to identify business opportu­nities friendly to youth, and later the selected youth go through the OYE Trajectory (OYE training pathway), to help them identify themselves, recog­nize their potential and the opportuni­ties available in their community, self-esteem, gender education, and values that are taught for five days.

Mlali says the following training is the technical one that the youth are clustered based on selected enterpris­es. He gave an example of poultry farm­ing, agriculture, improved cook stove making, fisheries, and solar appliances businesses. These enterprises moti­vate the youth to start entrepreneurial activities and set up their savings and lending associations.

Other trainings that OYE youth go through are entrepreneurship, finan­cial literacy, development of female role models and business champions, internship, and longtime provision of mentoring and coaching to the estab­lished youth-led enterprises.

Mshindi Ole Isaya, OYE Advi­sor- Private Sector Engagement says the private sector is a pillar in the implementation of this project as its presence makes OYE sustainable, as the intended business partnership between youth and private sector is enhanced in a manner that there is a win-win situation among them, the youth and the private sector.

“The OYE is a marketing system development project, because it ensures young people are not only educated on productive issues but also make sure their activities are sustainable even after the project is completed, therefore, the private sec­tor is important because its presence makes OYE more sustainable, ”Says Ole Isaya.

JWD Agro Inputs Center Director General, Dr. Firmin Mizambwa says they have participated in the OYE project in two main areas which are providing OYE youth with profes­sional training skills and consulting on agro inputs’ business.

“OYE provides great opportunities for young people but small number of them is reached, thus making others continue to remain in the streets. SNV has reached out to a few youths with the capacity they have, so they need to be supported to ensure they reach as many youth as possible with the needs surging “says Dr. Mizambwa.

ZOLA Electric Technical Services Officer, Cecilia Jovitha says OYE has been producing talented and skilled young people who have been using them in running their operations.

"We have been partnering with SNV to provide us with trained youth whom we have employed through our company. So far, there are 40 young people employed in our company who are a product of OYE," says Cecilia.

She says they used to storm the streets looking for young people to work in their various offices but now are getting them from OYE initiative with great potential due to the training they have received.

Programme Manager-Business Sec­tor at the Embassy of Denmark in Tan­zania, Helen Masele agrees with other stakeholders on the need to focus on realising the great potential of youth in Tanzania through supporting efforts to empower young women and men by enhancing their skills, creating oppor­tunities and promoting green jobs to make a difference in their lives.

“The Danish support aims to increase employment and income opportunities for farmers and micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) through green inclusive growth. The OYE project contributes to this by improving livelihoods and future prospects for youth especially young women in rural areas in Singida and Morogoro”, says Helen

OYE beneficiaries

Speaking on behalf of his group, the Chairman of the Mwendokasi group in Mzinga Ward, Morogoro Ibrahim Gome says that OYE has helped them tremendously to identify themselves, positively changed their mindset, and become better young people in the community.

“The OYE project has helped us a lot as a youth because we have received theoretical training in the fields of life skills, entrepreneurship, financial planning, constitution and group mak­ing, poultry as well as tomato farming, “says Gome.


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Members of Mwendokasi group in Mzinga Ward, Morogoro at their vegetable farm.

He also explains that they started their group by raising a small amount of money and bringing in the amount of one hundred and ten thousand shillings and when they attended the second training, they scooped up 50 chicks and started poultry.

Explaining the challenges they face, Gome ranks the higher cost of food and poultry medicine as number one–making them unable to afford it.

A member of the Mzinga poultry group, Jackline Mlemigwa says OYE has helped them to become more self-aware and respected in a dif­ferent society than before.

“After receiving training in the OYE project, we decided to form our own savings group and later initiated fun­draising for started a poultry project that we continue with hitherto and it has helped us,” says Jackline.

She says the savings and loan group has helped members earn money to start their individual projects such as the sale of traditional liquor which has significantly changed their lives and availed some parents sending their children to schools for those who had given birth to, and abandoned their children.

Access to medicines and poultry feed remains a huge vexed question for her, largely attributed to the commod­ities’ price hike, which makes it very difficult for them to afford it owing to limited capital.

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Kareem Mdigwa who is a fisherman from Mvomero. Before joining the OYE project he did not dream of becoming a fish keeper.

Kareem Mdigwa who is a fisherman from Mvomero says that before join­ing the OYE project, he did not dream of becoming a fisherman but the train­ing he received on the matter quickly marinated his predilection for fishing and now he is halfway to fulfilling that.

“I am so grateful that OYE changed my life. I was just roaming in the street with nothing to do but after receiv­ing training and deciding to start fish farming in our own home, they respected me and my mother pur­veyed me a place to make a fish pond,” says Mdigwa.

Mdigwa reveals that he has, as of today, delivered more than 400 fish­es to his pond where Tilapia (Sato) amount to 200 and catfishes (kam­bale) 200 and he hopes to start the first harvest by August this year.

“I hope to start harvesting for the first time in August and I have project­ed that timing because of searching for a reliable fish market that will accrue a big profit. In that case, through OYE, I have been able to find the market that I will use to sell my fishes,” says Mdigwa.

Tausi Mahamudu who is a manufac­turer and seller of improved and ener­gy-saving cook stoves from Mvomero unfolds that she extracted the skills to make such stoves through OYE proj­ect.

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Manufacturer and seller of improved and energy-saving cook stoves from Mvomero, Tausi Mahamudu. She extracted the skills to make such stoves through OYE project.

“The first time the OYE’s people came, I rejected joining them while holding a false thought that their ini­tiative was meant for only elite young people but after being advised by my colleagues, I stepped a foot and we were organized into groups and told to choose something we want to be taught on and I chose the design of these stoves,” says Tausi.

She elucidates that the business has helped her change her life as she has been earning an income from it while mentioning the lack of market as the major challenge since many people still do not believe in the stoves that preserve the environment.