Youth economic opportunities

Youth unemployment is reaching crisis levels throughout Africa and poses a serious constraint on inclusive economic development across the continent. Youth unemployment creates problems such as lost productivity and political unrest, and requires increased public spending. This makes it imperative to create opportunities for the youth to be included in the economy and become productive members of the labour force.

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Expertise Areas

Evaluation and impact assessment

Our evaluations focus on economic opportunities that are most useful for young people and balance accountability with learning.

We select the M&E methods and tools that are most appropriate to the context and meet the often divergent needs of the users of our evaluations. Our team has theoretical and practical knowledge of a range of M&E methods and tools that equip us to maintain a high level of rigour. We balance this rigour with a degree of flexibility that ensures we remain responsive to emerging considerations and changing contexts.

We make sure that young people take part in a meaningful way where they don’t feel threatened. We use methods that make young people comfortable in sharing their stories, experiences and opinions. Evaluations are implemented and recommendations are prepared with a view to how these can be used. This means locating the recommendations in the context of implementation and characteristics of different interventions.

Our recent evaluation clients in the youth economic opportunities space include funders like DFID, ILO and The Rockefeller Foundation, government stakeholders such as the Department of Planning Monitoring and Evaluation in the South African Presidency, and programme implementers like Harambee Youth Accelerator and the Helvetas team managing the Swiss-funded MarketMakers programme.

Ongoing support as a learning partner

Beyond assisting our clients to validate and improve their own impact, there are important lessons to be learnt that can be shared with other funders and practitioners and applied to their own youth-focused interventions. This facilitates improvement by all and a greater and more sustained impact in the youth economic opportunities space.

As a learning partner to our clients we collect and generate, store and curate, and adapt and disseminate knowledge. However, our role is to support a meaningful learning process that develops meaningful outputs. Our outputs are crafted for the end-user, especially in terms of language, format and graphics. This includes the use of technology and data visualisation to support learning processes. We also ensure that stories of change and beneficiary voices are emphasised so that M&E information is contextualised. Finally, we are adept at developing real-time, practical recommendations for programme improvement or strategic intervention that are clear and detailed. Genesis has been appointed as learning partner to The Rockefeller Foundation’s Digital Jobs Africa, which aims to respond to the challenge of youth unemployment by supporting a global impact-sourcing movement in order to increase commitments to inclusive hiring among corporate stakeholders. As Rockefeller’s learning partner we will develop knowledge products to promote inclusive hiring, enable learning to inform strategic management and ongoing improvement, and promote upward and downward accountability.

Design, review and support of M&E systems

Our development of M&E systems enables our clients to go beyond merely collating figures to establish progress against targets. Through our results-based management approach to M&E, we acknowledge that it is not beneficial to collect information if it will not be used. Successful project execution in the youth economic opportunities space requires being able to leverage high quality data on a regular basis and being able to use this data to course correct and improve programme strategy and implementation.

When providing technical assistance, our role varies from being the M&E officer on short- or long-term programmes, to assisting and mentoring internal M&E staff, to conducting workshops and training sessions, and to developing M&E frameworks and tools for implementation. In youth economic opportunities, we have designed, reviewed and supported the M&E systems of a range of clients, including the South African National Treasury’s Jobs Fund, The Rockefeller Foundation, the African Agriculture Fund’s Technical Assistance Facility and DFID.

Projects

Financial inclusion can address youth employment crisis in Africa

Project name:
Review of a financial inclusion funding initiative

Service:
Monitoring and evaluation

Sector:
Financial services

Area of Expertise:
Evaluation & impact assessment

Client:
Private foundation

Date:
2015 - 2016

Country:
Ghana
Kenya
Rwanda
Senegal
Tanzania
Uganda


Africa’s youth bulge - once considered a demographic dividend - is turning into a crisis as young people lack the skills or opportunities to find good quality work. 

Large amounts of donor funding have been channelled to the supply side of this problem: improving youth skills and encouraging them to become entrepreneurs. But this failed where there was insufficient demand for young people in the job market. Financial inclusion can play a key role in addressing this by helping small and medium enterprises to become more productive and grow, thereby employing more young people. 

Genesis partnered with a prominent private foundation in the financial inclusion community to identify what the foundation had learned from its work in expanding access to formal financial services across the continent. This review took place against a broader strategic shift towards youth employment creation as a primary objective for many donors. Our analysis was geared towards identifying how financial inclusion could support the employability of young people in Africa as well as create work for them in the marketplace. 

We used foundation staff interviews, an extensive review of partner FSP documentation, and our own experience of working with banks and MFIs across the continent to conduct the review. We were able to isolate the organisational assets the foundation had built, which could be leveraged to support youth employment creation. 

We identified two channels through which this could take place: at the household level, creating resilience against extreme poverty, and at the enterprise level, helping micro, small and medium enterprises MSMEs to grow and employ more young people. The review highlighted that most of the FSPs that received foundation support provided services to individuals and survivalist micro enterprises. There was also little evidence that this created concrete economic opportunities for the poor, particularly the youth, on a significant scale. 

Our analysis attributed this finding partly to the limitation of supporting FSPs to expand to unserved market segments alone, without considering the many other constraints associated with poverty. 

Achieving youth employment requires addressing constraints in financial inclusion as well as in the education system and labour market and also ecosystem-level constraints such as regulation, market infrastructure, information, and informal norms and attitudes. We helped our client think through how to adapt programming models for this new multidimensional reality in a way which maximises impact by addressing multiple constraints across multiple systems and levels within a single context.        

Review shows way to increase financial access

Partners with Rockefeller on Digital initiative

Project name:
Monitoring and Evaluation of Digital Jobs Africa

Service:
Monitoring and evaluation

Sector:
Youth economic opportunities

Area of Expertise:
Ongoing support as a learning partner

Client:
Rockerfeller Foundation

Date:
2016 - ongoing

Country:
Kenya
South Africa


Africa’s populations are growing at a rapid pace and job opportunities are not keeping up with the growth, particularly among the youth. Youth unemployment is increasingly a challenge in many African countries and South Africa is no exception.

To overcome this The Rockefeller Foundation launched the Digital Jobs Africa (DJA) initiative in 2013 to catalyse new, sustainable employment opportunities and skills training for African youth, with a focus on the ICT sector. The goal of the DJA is to influence change in business practice by demonstrating the value of impact sourcing and contribute to the social and economic well-being of the youth and their circle of influence.

In order to influence change in business practices, the DJA needs to identify and showcase the benefits of impact sourcing to increase commitment to this among new corporate partners. Genesis has been contracted to fulfill this objective as the monitoring and evaluation (M&E) partner for the DJA.

Additionally, Rockefeller aims to pursue a results-based management approach to the management of the DJA, where on-going learnings are fed back into the initiative’s design and implementation to maximise its effectiveness and impact. Ensuring that this approach is achieved by the initiative is the mandate of the M&E partner. Rockefeller aims to promote accountability of the initiative’s disbursements, which is the final objective of the M&E partner.

Harambee mid-term Evaluation

Project name:
Harambee mid-term Evaluation

Service:
Monitoring and evaluation

Sector:
Public and social
Youth economic opportunities

Area of Expertise:
Evaluation and impact assessment

Client:
A MasterCard Foundation programme managed by Harambee

Date:
2015

Country:
South Africa


Harambee is an organisation that addresses knowledge and skills gaps among unemployed young people in South Africa and aims to link them to entry-level job opportunities. Having placed more than 10 000 young work-seekers in employment in three years, Harambee has built an effective model that provides unemployed youth with access to job opportunities.

To define its options and strategies for continued growth and sustainability, it was important to investigate the drivers and determinants of its success. Genesis Analytics was contracted to help understand how this was done, how much it cost and how Harambee could continue to fulfill its goal. The findings were used to inform Harambee's expansion into new sectors in partnership with the South African Government

Impact Study of internship programme on Harambee candidates

Project name:
Impact Study of the Momentum Financial Advisor Internship Programme on Harambee candidates

Service:
Monitoring and evaluation

Sector:
Public and social
Youth economic opportunities

Area of Expertise:
Evaluation and impact assessment

Client:
Momentum

Date:
2015 - 2016

Country:
South Africa


Momentum is a leading South African financial services provider. It recently introduced an internship programme to identify and provide young people, who have had work experience, with an opportunity for long-term employment as financial advisers. The people were recruited from Harambee, an organisation that addresses skills gaps of unemployed young people and links them to employment opportunities.

Genesis was contracted to conduct a study of how participation in the internship influenced young people's social and economic circumstances. The purpose of the impact study was to determine whether the internship programme met its objectives, and to identify areas of greater or lesser success to inform the implementation of future financial-adviser internship programmes.

Assessment of youth employment project in Bosnia, Herzegovina

Project name:
Value Assessment of a Monitoring and Results Measurement System for the MarketMakers Project

Service:
Monitoring and evaluation
Market systems development

Sector:
Youth economic opportunities

Area of Expertise:
Design, review and support of M&E systems

Client:
A SDC programme managed by Helvetas Swiss Intercooperation

Date:
2016

Country:
Bosnia and Herzegovina


The MarketMakers programme is funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and implemented by Helvetas Swiss Intercooperation and Posao.BA in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH). MarketMakers is focusing on the creation of decent job opportunities for young people using a market systems approach in tourism, food processing and ICT sectors.

Genesis Analytics was contracted to conduct a value assessment of the MarketMakers monitoring and results measurement (MRM) system. Key to this assessment was to establish which MRM activities were high or low value for money, given their estimated benefit compared with the investment required, and whether it was worthwhile for MarketMakers to become fully compliant with the DCED Standard.

Conducting a value assessment on the activities of an MRM system is a new technique that is being used to evaluate MRM investment and functionality. There is no standard approach and the Genesis team, with input from the MarketMakers team, developed an innovative solution – a DCED-mock audit on the current MRM, appreciative inquiry sessions with the MarketMakers team and interviews with the programme’s market partners and funders. This provided the evidence base from which priority MRM tasks were identified. Genesis then created an MRM value-cost matrix where each priority task was rated on factors of decision-making and learning (value addition), and time and investment (costs). 

Understanding the value and cost associated with different MRM tasks provided the analytical basis for recommendations on which tasks were considered high or low value for money. These findings will assist MarketMakers, and other Helvetas programmes, to better understand the trade-offs in MRM systems. They will also improve future focus on those MRM activities that have higher value for money. MarketMakers were also faced with the question of whether to seek DCED Standard compliance, and through the value assessment, Genesis was able to provide evidence to inform its decision on this matter.

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Technical Advisory to National Treasury's Jobs Fund

Project name:
National Treasury Jobs Fund Monitoring and Evaluation Technical Advisory

Service:
Monitoring and evaluation

Sector:
Public and social
Youth economic opportunities

Area of Expertise:
Design, review and support of M&E systems

Client:
National Treasury (South Africa)

Date:
2011 - ongoing

Country:
South Africa


Unemployment is arguably the most serious social and economic challenge facing South Africa. In 2011 the South African National Treasury launched the Jobs Fund in response to South Africa's high unemployment rate. 

The Jobs Fund is a competitive grant fund based on challenge fund principles. It was created by bringing about a partnership of the public and private sectors. It aims to go beyond simply funding work opportunities. It seeks innovative models that prioritise systemic solutions and creates sustainable new permanent jobs. Through its project partners, the fund aims to create 150 000 such new permanent jobs.

Genesis was appointed as technical advisers (TA) to the Jobs Fund to provide support for investment strategy, governance, monitoring and evaluation (M&E) and general operations. Within the M&E role, Genesis was responsible for:

  1. Developing the overarching Jobs Fund theory of change
  2. Monitoring the overarching Jobs Fund logframe and supporting fund-level reporting
  3. Defining fund-level outcomes indicators
  4. Supporting grantee monitoring processes
  5. Providing quality assurance support to grantee reporting processes
  6. Supporting external evaluation processes
  7. Advising grantees on project-level evaluation activities
  8. Facilitating the Jobs Fund's learning agenda.

To date, the Jobs Fund has committed funds in the following thematic areas: infrastructure, institutional capacity building, support for work-seekers, enterprise development, support for smallholder farmers and innovation in job creation.

Impact evaluation of startUP&go

Project name:
Impact evaluation of startUP&go

Service:
Monitoring and evaluation

Sector:
Youth economic opportunities

Area of Expertise:
Evaluation and impact assessment

Client:
International Labour Organisation

Date:
2016 - ongoing

Country:
South Africa


The startUP&go programme is funded by the International Labour Organisation and provided to learners in grades 10, 11 and 12 who are enrolled for business studies in Free State province. The programme aims to develop entrepreneurial interest and intention by supplementing the curriculum resources for use in the classroom.

Genesis Analytics was contracted to conduct an impact evaluation targeting learners who had completed three years of the programme between 2012-2015. Key to this is establishing what young people are doing now, whether they are using the resources provided by startUP&go and whether they are running their own businesses or in the process of starting a business. The evaluation will use baseline data collected in 2012 to compare changes which may have happened because of the programme. This will inform further roll-out of the programme to new schools.

Impact Evaluation of Passport to Success

Project name:
Impact Evaluation of Passport to Success

Service:
Monitoring and evaluation

Sector:
Youth economic opportunities

Area of Expertise:
Evaluation and impact assessment

Client:
International Youth Foundation

Date:
2016 - ongoing

Country:
South Africa


The International Youth Foundation (IYF) is dedicated to improving youth economic opportunities. Its most recent country strategy for South Africa is to strengthen learnerships and internships for unemployed youth, helping to bridge the skills gap between young people’s abilities and the competencies that employers seek. The plan is to use systems, such as those run by industry partners and Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges, and strengthen them by integrating the IYF’s Passport to Success (PTS) life skills curriculum to improve completion rates and post-training employment rates. 

The IYF is piloting this strategy in partnership with EOH by integrating the PTS curriculum into the EOH Youth Job Creation Initiative. It has commissioned Genesis to conduct a quasi-experimental impact evaluation of the programme. The purpose of the evaluation is to generate evidence around the impact of PTS for both businesses and the participating youth, as well as to assess the return-on-investment (ROI) for companies that employ youths who have acquired the life skills taught through the PTS curriculum.

Mid-term review of DFID project in Mombasa

Project name:
Mid-term Review of the DFID-funded Kuza Project in Mombasa

Service:
Monitoring and evaluation
Market systems development

Sector:
Public and social
Youth economic opportunities

Area of Expertise:
Evaluation and impact assessment

Client:
DFID Kenya

Date:
2015 - 2016

Country:
Kenya


Kuza is a market systems development intervention funded by DFID Kenya aimed at creating employment opportunities for unemployed young people in Mombasa, Kenya. It was launched in Mombasa in May 2014 and is expected to run until June 2017. 

Genesis was contracted to conduct a mid-term evaluation which assessed the efficiency and effectiveness of project implementation, evaluate how any changes in intervention design and delivery could be improved in the future, and identify opportunities for development and project scale up.

We conducted interviews and focus-group discussions with market players as well as the beneficiary youth. This information, together with desktop review, internal interviews and the analysis of Kuza’s existing monitoring data, was used to answer the evaluation questions. 

The evaluation framework was aligned to the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) criteria with an additional scale criteria which was modelled on the approach outlined in Coburn’s (2003) “Rethinking scale: Moving beyond numbers to deep and lasting change”. At the end of the mid-term evaluation, 

Genesis workshopped the programme level theory of change with the funder and the implementers. Using the findings of the evaluation, the revised theory of change reflected the critical assumptions underlying the impact pathways and provided the client with a better understanding of the market system in which its intervention was operating. 

The evaluation also provided a response to the question of scale, highlighting obtainable and evidence-based solutions to scaling and replication, while also cautioning against full programme scale-up before a fully established proof of concept.

Meet the Team

Areas of Service Expertise

  • Evaluation and impact assessment
  • Ongoing support as a learning partner
  • Design, review and support of M&E systems

Related Sectors

Projects

Project

Financial inclusion can address youth employment crisis in Africa

Genesis partnered with a prominent private foundation in the financial inclusion community to identify what the foundation had learned from its work in expanding access to formal financial services across the continent. This review took place against a broader strategic shift towards youth employment creation as a primary objective for many donors. 

View Project
Project

Partners with Rockefeller on Digital initiative

Genesis has been awarded a two-year grant by The Rockefeller Foundation to serve as monitoring and evaluation (M&E) partner to their Digital Jobs Africa (DJA) initiative, which was set up in response to the challenge of widespread youth unemployment in Africa.

View Project

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Leading the team

​Alyna Wyatt

Partner (Evaluation for Development)

​Alyna Wyatt
Partner (Evaluation for Development)
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Mishkah Jakoet

Manager

Mishkah Jakoet
Manager
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Rebecca Pursell-Gotz

Manager

Rebecca Pursell-Gotz
Manager
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Caitlin Smit

Manager

Caitlin Smit
Manager
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