Fatoumata lives with her three children and husband in the town of Ségou in central Mali. As a young mother, Fatoumata often faces challenges as she has limited access to cheap and nutritious food.
She runs "Marta Briquettes," a company that produces environmentally friendly charcoal from plant residues such as wild shrubs, mango peels and seeds, and shea nut shells. The Skill Up! Project is supporting Fatoumata's business and 15 other local start-ups. Welthungerhilfe (WHH) is working with the local partner DoniLab, a promoter of innovative entrepreneurship.
Thanks to the comprehensive training Skill Up! offers, Fatoumata has expanded and improved her business skills, among other things. She can now better identify and approach customers, calculate her income and expenses accurately, and promote her products in an appealing way. Thanks to the increased revenue, Fatoumata can now employ four people, who can also better support their own families through their work, such as buying school materials and nutritious food for their children.
Education – the key to development
Amplified by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, 73 million young people between the ages of 15 and 24 are unemployed worldwide, according to the International Labor Organization. The number could continue to rise: In Africa alone, at least 150 million young women and men will enter the labor market by 2030. Training youth and building labor markets in poverty-stricken regions are crucial to development, economic growth, and the path out of hunger and poverty. In 2015, the cross-national program Skill Up! - qualify yourself! was launched on the initiative of Gudrun Bauer and developed in cooperation between Bauer Charity gGmbH and WHH.
The Skill Up! program offers around 25,000 young women and men between the ages of 15 and 35 the opportunity to gain professional qualifications. Following expansion in 2019, young people have earned qualifications through the Skill Up! program in Afghanistan, India, Kenya, Malawi, Nepal, Sierra Leone, Tajikistan, and Uganda.
Due to the remarkable successes in these countries, WHH helped expand the program again in 2022 to four additional French-speaking countries in particularly fragile contexts: Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mali, and the Central African Republic. In addition to the central goal of bringing young people in these challenging contexts into profitable employment or self-employment, WHH aims further to develop the program-specific training approach through the expansion and adapt it for fragile, unstable contexts.
Good for the economy – and self-confidence
Skill Up! offers young people the chance to earn an income as entrepreneurs. The training programs in the individual countries are practical, needs-based, adapted to the respective location and aimed at young people – especially young women – who live under challenging conditions. In addition to manual skills, the trainees, like Fatoumata, acquire business basics and everyday skills such as reliability, assertiveness and teamwork. These so-called life skills strengthen the trainees' self-confidence, which is critical for their chosen career paths. At the same time, the program qualifies trainers, supports local companies, develops curricula and educational concepts, and strengthens government structures so that the projects can run on their own in the long term.