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Taking Action on Youth Employment

Taking Action on Youth Employment

 Jordan, Middle East, February 7, 2018 – Maximpact Training Network would like to present one of it’s partners Jordan Education for Employment (JEFE).

JEFE was established in 2006 as the first affiliate in the Education For Employment (EFE) Network, and today is one of Jordan’s leading youth employment organizations. Based in Amman, Jordan EFE operates across Jordan, particularly in under-served areas in Irbid and Zarqa.

The EFE Network extends across Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Palestine, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia and Yemen, with support hubs in the USA, Europe, and the UAE.

JEFE’s impact is astounding:

  • Over 5,300 youth in Jordan linked to employment and the wider world of work.
  • 54% of Jordan EFE graduates are young women.
  • 191 employers have hired Jordan EFE alumni.

Their latest program “Jordan Competitiveness Programme” was implemented with the support of USAID to help train and better prepare 853 beneficiaries, of whom more than 600 were placed in full-time jobs. The programme, launched in 2015, has already placed 600 new graduated in private sector. As part of the programme, JEFE led 26 training sessions to better prepare the new graduates for the Jordanian job market.

JEFE, through sponsored programmes, prepares and assists youth and women for employment.

Read two stories of how JEFE helped Hala Hourani (sales assistant) and Shatha Al Qurashi (entrepreneur).

Hala Hourani , JEFE’s Alumna.

Hala Hourani , JEFE’s Alumna.

Hala Hourani

Hala Hourani is a 21-year-old female living in Amman. Hala found herself yearning to pursue a meaningful and fulfilling career; but she had to overcome many obstacles along the way. After her parents retired, she wanted to provide for her family. She hated asking her parents for money and began feeling like a burden to her family.

Hala loved working with people, so she obtained a diploma in Tourism Management and Hospitality. Despite her hard work, Hala had to face the harsh reality that her diploma did not guarantee her a job. She searched for employment for five months, which caused her to be stressed and emotionally exhausted. Hala said, “I began to feel useless. I worked so hard for a diploma and it was put to waste.”

Hala then found hope when she discovered JEFE and enrolled in the hospitality program funded by Drosos Foundation. JEFE provided her with soft skills she needed to work in any hospitality position. She also began to learn the technical skills needed to work in a restaurant and now feels that she can work in any position inside of any restaurant.

Hala not only learned the technical and soft skills needed to work in a restaurant, but she also gained confidence in doing such. Hala’s instructors bragged about her ability to learn quickly. This positive encouragement gave Hala the confidence she needed to find a job. Hala not only learned the skills she needed, but she said she learned how to be a better version of herself. Hala said she now feels confident to accomplish anything that comes her way.

After Hala’s training, JEFE provided her with a job working at Paul Café and Restaurant preparing the various displays shown throughout the cafe.

Hala became passionate about her work and loves her new job. She loves getting the opportunity to work and communicate with people from all over the world and she is enjoying using her creative skills to prepare all of the displays inside of the restaurant.

Hala said she has found the meaning to life. When talking about her plan in the future, Hala said, “If I work hard enough, I want to become a manager of a restaurant. Or possibly own my own restaurant. Without JEFE I don’t believe I would be this optimistic about my future.” With the support of her family and JEFE, Hala has become an example to women around the world to follow their passion. Hala is proud of her job and is excited to continue her career.

Shatha Al Qurashi, JEFE’s Alumna.

Shatha Al Qurashi, JEFE’s Alumna.

Shatha Al Qurashi

Facing a difficult job market, many young university graduates experience that obtaining their degree does not necessarily equal finding a job. Amongst the many struggling to find opportunities to make a living, one was Shatha Al Qurashi (24 years) from Ajloun. For her, the solution was a job training program. In about one year, she went from being unemployed to becoming her own boss.

After graduating with an accounting diploma from Balqaa Applied University, Shatha was looking forward to find a job that would enable her to provide for her parents; a housewife and a retired father from Ausara- Ajloun, as well as her 14 siblings. After 18 months of resultless searches for a job, she began to lose hope.

Fortunately, she stumbled upon an advertisement for a garment assembly line course for women in Ajloun. Offered jointly by UNDP and JEFE under the “Youth Employment Generation Programme in Arab Transition Countries”, the course mission extended beyond training, and promised to facilitate actual job placement for all participating trainees.

Curious about this opportunity, Shatha decided to give it a chance, despite the fact that she had no experience in sewing or garment assembly. By the end of the two-month program, Shatha obtained the practical training needed to become a garment assembly line professional. According to her own testimony, she quickly “started to love sewing and the whole garment industry”. As a part of the program, she was also trained in leadership and entrepreneurial skills, and she asked herself: “Why should I stop at working in a factory? I am capable of becoming my own boss”. Her goal was to start up a business that would allow her to not only make money to support her family, but also help other women by employing them.

Less than a year later, she opened up her own tailoring workshop in Ebeen, a vibrant area in downtown Ajloun. Her workshop is gaining a posi- tive reputation in the local market for its quality production, and she has already signed several production agreements.

Shatha’s vision for the future of her business includes buying more sewing machines and increasing her workforce to 15 female employees. She even envisages herself opening up her own factory in the future. In the meantime, she strives to be a source of inspiration for local women, underlining that with hard work, dreams can be realized.


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Jordan Cycles Into Business Adventures

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Used bikes arrive in Jordan, shipped from the United States. (Photo courtesy Wheels of Change) Posted for media use

By Sunny Lewis

AMMAN, Jordan, June 1, 2017 (Maximpact.com News) – Malia Asfour, Jordan Tourism Board director for North America, has inspired travel professionals from across the United States to help rural communities in Jordan by donating used bicycles, building bike shops and supporting tour guide training.

The plan was conceived around a dinner table about as far away from the sunny Middle Eastern country of Jordan as anyone could get – chilly Anchorage, Alaska.

In September 2016, a small group of travel professionals, in Anchorage for the annual Adventure Travel World Summit, gathered for dinner.

At the table that night was Keith Sproule, executive director of A&K Philanthropy, associated with the American luxury travel agency Abercrombie & Kent with its global network of 52 offices.

Also at the table was Dan Austin, founder of Austin Adventures and the nonprofit Wheels of Change that began donating bikes and operational skills to remote communities in Africa in 2010.

Muna Haddad was there. She serves as director of the Jordan-based social enterprise Baraka, whose mission is to support sustainable tourism while conserving and protecting cultural heritage and natural resources.

They listened intently as Asfour told how Jordan is seeing an increasing interest in cycling, but currently only the affluent can afford to own a bike. In rural areas bikes are very scarce.

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Starting at the basalt ruins of the Decapolis of Um Qais overlooking the Sea of Galilee, the Jordan Trail heads down towards the Arab Dam. (Photo courtesy Jordan Trail) Posted for media use

Asfour explained that Jordan is actively building partnerships with adventure travel companies, introducing new cycling itineraries and mapping out adventurous bike trails nationwide, including the newly completed Jordan Trail, which runs the entire length of the country, 650 kilometers, from Um Qais in the north to Aqaba in the south.

Once the idea of bikes for Jordan took hold of their imaginations, the people in this core group around the Anchorage dinner table began to reach out to other tourism professionals for support.

They received commitments from the travel insurance company World Nomads through its online philanthropy project Footprint Network, which agreed to help provide funding.

Tourism Cares, the nonprofit, philanthropic arm of the travel and tourism industry, also committed funds to help establish community bicycle enterprises in Jordan.

Jordan suffers from a high unemployment rate, officially at 15 percent. Residents of remote villages often do not have the transportation they need to reach employment and educational opportunities.

To overcome these problems, the tourism professionals plan to establish two bike shops in Um Qais Village at one end of the Jordan Trail and in Feynan.

Used bikes are being shipped to Jordan from the United States. The shipping containers will be repurposed as bike rental, sales and repair shops.

Each shop will include a bike tour component, serving as a starting point for local bike tours. Four people from Um Qais are now being trained as tour guides.

The new bike shops can provide steady employment for up to eight people, and will give others the means to travel farther for jobs or school, to reach their livestock, or have better access to health care.

This project will tie into the Jordan Trail initiative, enabling locals and visitors to bike between villages along the trail.

In December 2016, four months after the plan was conceived in Alaska, the first container of 260 mountain bikes, spare parts and tools organized by Wheels of Change departed Billings, Montana. It was bound for Feynan, Jordan in the Dana Biosphere Reserve with its historic ruins and ecolodge on the Jordan Trail.

The Jordan Tourism Board has committed to securing duty import exemptions for the shipping containers full of bikes

On April 26, 2017, the first container was officially opened. Present for the festivities were Andy Austin and Corey Meyer, two Austin Adventures guides assigned to do much of the mechanical training, along with Muna Haddad of Baraka, who will be the on-ground project manager.

Haddad and her staff will work with the beneficiary communities, investing in setting up the shops, conducting training, overseeing facilities and handling the logistics of ground transport into and around Jordan.

A second container of 412 mountain bikes, spare parts and wheels sent by A&K Philanthropy in partnership with Working Bikes in Chicago was shipped on March 13. It is scheduled to arrive on or about May 28th in Madaba, central Jordan.

Baraka will help set up another bike shop in Madaba as well as a bike share program at Petra University, making it the first bicycle-friendly campus in Jordan.

There is a recycle and reuse component to the venture built in from the start to keep donated bikes from ending up in a landfill.

Once all of the elements are in place, the shops are designed to be sustainable, paying for the costs of resupplying their stock of bikes with money earned through the sales and repair of bikes and the rental of bikes for tours.

Another positive element to the bike shop operation is its mission to give back to the community. After all wages and business expenses are paid, the remaining funds are set aside to fund local charitable projects.

“It’s beautiful to see an idea come to life,” posted Haddad on Facebook. “This is how we change the world, one idea at a time and a lot of hard work in between.”

This project was showcased at the Adventure Travel Trade Association’s AdventureNEXT Near East, held from May 15 to 17 on the shore of the Dead Sea in Jordan, the first event of its kind to highlight adventure travel in the Near East.

Sproule presented the bike donation initiative at the conference to demonstrate how such strategic partnerships can successfully benefit grassroots development and tourism, helping to create new skills and business opportunities.


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Europe’s Microcredit Providers Have It EaSI

Europes Microcredit Providers Have It EaSIBy Sunny Lewis

BRUSSELS, Belgium, February 28, 2017 (Maximpact.com News) – The European Investment Fund and Nest Bank earlier this month signed a microfinance agreement aimed at supporting micro-businesses in Poland under the new EU Programme for Employment and Social Innovation (EaSI).

EaSI is a new source of funding, offered by the European Investment Fund and the European Commission, to help micro-credit and social enterprise finance providers develop their businesses.

The EaSI guarantee plan provides support to financial intermediaries that offer microloans to entrepreneurs or finance to social enterprises that would not have been able to obtain financing otherwise due to risk considerations.

The goal is to increase access to microfinance for vulnerable groups who want to set up or develop their business and micro-enterprises, through loans of up to €25,000.

EaSI aims to contribute to the implementation of the Europe 2020 strategy by supporting the EU’s objective of high level employment, guaranteeing adequate social protection, fighting against social exclusion and poverty and improving working conditions.

The new EaSI Capacity Building Investments Window will reinforce the capacity of selected financial intermediaries in the areas of microfinance and social enterprise finance.

Through equity investments such as seed financing and risk capital, EaSI will support the development of these finance providers in their efforts to do things such as open a new branch, invest in human resources, develop a new IT tool or finance expenses.

PolandBitspirationWoman

Dorota Zys is a Polish entrepreneur in the field of Internet and mobile applications with extensive experience in website design and digital marketing consultancy. She has advised professionals and trained over 100 companies in Inbound Marketing principles and their application. (Photo courtesy Bitspiration 2016) Posted for media use.


In Poland, with the financial backing of the European Commission, the European Investment Fund is providing a guarantee that will enable Nest Bank to provide over €9 million worth of loans on favorable conditions to about 1,300 microbusinesses in Poland over the next three years.

Earlier this month, France became the first EU Member State to benefit under EaSI from the support of the European Fund for Strategic Investments, the heart of the Investment Plan for Europe.

This guarantee will allow Initiative France to award more than €10 million in interest-free loans to more than 500 French microenterprises over the next three years.

The European Investment Fund is using its EaSI guarantee to support Initiative France in the context of its Initiative Remarquable unsecured loans intended for businesses taking an economically responsible approach and creating jobs.

Announcing the new capacity building project, EU Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility Marianne Thyssen said in December, “Ultimately, these investments will help increase the offer and opportunities for micro-borrowers and social enterprises.”

“It responds to the needs of financial institutions that want to build up their capacity and reinforce the offer on the market,” Thyssen said. “Through this instrument, we confirm our commitment to give a boost to jobs and growth and help the most vulnerable people in the labour market.

At the signature event in Paris in December, EIB Vice-President Ambroise Fayolle said “The Juncker Plan continues to develop in France, with 46 operations signed in France so far, accounting for a total amount of €3.1 billion, which is expected to generate an additional €15.9 billion.

This new agreement with Initiative France marks an important milestone in the EIB Group’s support for small French firms,” said Fayolle. “By extending the scheme to businesses in the weakest regions, to job creators in priority districts and young student entrepreneurs, we will further develop our financing and support aims.”

The 222 platforms of the Initiative France associative network of creative financing and corporate buyers provide unsecured loans to 19,000 entrepreneurs each year.

At least 60 percent are unemployed. They are expected to create and develop over 16,000 businesses, creating more than 40,000 jobs.

The progress of 55,000 entrepreneurs is being followed, and 9,000 of them are being mentored.

Louis Schweitzer, president of Initiative France, explained, “This new support from the European Investment Fund confirms the effectiveness of the unique Initiative France model in general and of the Initiative Remarquable program in particular.  We are also very proud to be the first beneficiaries in Europe of EU support under its EaSI program.

In 2015, €176 million of unsecured loans led to over €1 billion in bank loans. These local associations, well-integrated into their local areas, have 950 staff and 16,180 volunteers, including 4,640 business mentors to support new entrepreneurs.

The combination of the mentoring, the loans, and the banking services has helped these enterprises to achieve a 88 percent survival rate over three years, compared with a national rate of 70 percent, according to the French National Institute for Statistics and Economic Studies.

EIF Chief Executive Pier Luigi Gilibert, said, “I am confident that the EaSI Capacity Building Investments Window will be instrumental in strengthening the operational and institutional capabilities of micro-credit and social finance providers.”

Capacity building is fundamental for finance providers to be able to deliver on their investment objectives in an effective and sustainable manner,” Gilibert emphasized. “I am pleased to see that EIF will support those finance providers in creating an investment friendly environment.”

Gilibert said the EaSI Capacity Building Investments Window reflects the European Commission’s “strong commitment” to launch initiatives aiming at boosting jobs, growth and investment.

Launched in June 2015, EaSI is managed directly by the European Commission. The total budget for 2014-2020 is €919,469,000 in 2013 prices.

Also, for the first time, the European Commission is helping social enterprises through investments of up to €500,000.

The European Commission is reinforcing the social dimension of the European Fund for Strategic Investments for both microfinance and social entrepreneurship. Overall, the total amount of support to these areas is expected to increase from €193 million under the EaSI program to about €1 billion, mobilizing roughly €3 billion in additional investment.

The European Investment Fund is part of the European Investment Bank Group. Its central mission is to support Europe’s micro, small and medium-sized businesses by helping them to access finance.

In this role, EIF designs and develops venture and growth capital, guarantees and microfinance instruments which specifically target this market segment. EIF aims to foster EU objectives in support of innovation, research and development, entrepreneurship, growth, and employment.


Featured image: The European Commission is investing in micro-businesses to create jobs and support new entrepreneurs. (Photo by Peter Linke) Creative Commons license via Flickr

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