Rwanda re­search calls for new ap­proach

East African Business Week - - NEWS -

KI­GALI, Rwanda- In­no­va­tive re­search re­leased by The Mastercard Foun­da­tion is mak­ing the case for a new ap­proach to youth em­ploy­ment train­ing strate­gies in Africa. In­vis­i­ble Lives: Un­der­stand­ing Youth Liveli­hoods in Ghana and Uganda, re­leased at the Young Africa Works Sum­mit in Ki­gali, Rwanda, sheds light on the work­ing lives of African youth. “To reach a crit­i­cal mass of young peo­ple, fun­da­men­tal shifts in our ap­proach to skills-build­ing, ac­cess to fi­nance and en­trepreneur­ship sup­port are nec­es­sary,” says Lindsay Wallace, Di­rec­tor of Learn­ing and Strat­egy, The Mastercard Foun­da­tion. “De­vel­op­ment ef­forts must strengthen so­cial, ed­u­ca­tion and eco­nomic sys­tems, and pro­mote in­clu­sive growth that will pro­vide the most vul­ner­a­ble and marginal­ized young peo­ple with op­por­tu­ni­ties to im­prove their lives.” The re­port, pro­duced in col­lab­o­ra­tion with Low-in­come Fi­nan­cial Trans­for­ma­tion (L-IFT), ar­gues that in­ter­na­tional de­vel­op­ment pro­grams favour skills train­ing for for­mal sec­tor ca­reers over train­ing that can be ap­plied to mul­ti­ple jobs in the in­for­mal sec­tor. The re­sult is that their ef­forts fall short of reach­ing the mil­lions of un­reached youth on the con­ti­nent who en­gage in mixed liveli­hoods. In­vis­i­ble Lives set out to ex­plore how young peo­ple in­te­grate mixed liveli­hoods into their work­ing lives, what chal­lenges this ap­proach poses, and how best to de­sign in­ter­ven­tions for young peo­ple in the in­for­mal sec­tor. The re­search used a di­aries method­ol­ogy to doc­u­ment the work­ing lives of 246 youth ages 18-24 from Ghana and Uganda over a oneyear pe­riod, hon­ing in on ques­tions around be­hav­iour, in­come, eco­nomic ac­tiv­i­ties, and time man­age­ment. While these data speak to the re­al­i­ties of em­ploy­ment in Ghana and Uganda, the re­search sug­gests that these also re­flect emerg­ing trends across Africa. In­vis­i­ble Lives high­lights the ex­tra­or­di­nary lengths that young peo­ple go to in or­der to achieve sus­tain­able liveli­hoods. Find­ings of the In­vis­i­ble Lives re­search in­di­cate that: Young peo­ple in Africa di­ver­sify their liveli­hoods, un­der­tak­ing a mix of in­for­mal sec­tor em­ploy­ment, self­em­ploy­ment, and agri­cul­ture-re­lated ac­tiv­i­ties to sus­tain their liveli­hood. Agri­cul­tural pro­duc­tion is cen­tral to young peo­ple’s liveli­hoods, but agri­cul­tural in­comes were mea­gre. Many young peo­ple run small en­ter­prises that can be eas­ily started, stopped, and restarted as needed. The most suc­cess­ful young peo­ple in both Ghana and Uganda di­ver­si­fied their in­come and risk by grow­ing mul­ti­ple crops, rais­ing a va­ri­ety of live­stock, and pursuing a wide range of ad­di­tional ac­tiv­i­ties.

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