Economic Empowerment for Youths and Women

As an African proverb goes, ‘To educate a woman is to educate a whole village’ and so it is also true that to empower a woman is to empower a whole generation. And as another one goes, ‘A child who is not embraced by a village will burn it down to feel its warmth’ and so it is also true that we cannot continue to neglect the economic hurdles of our youths if we are to ensure cohesiveness in our communities.


Youths and women constitute the largest population of Eastern and Central African inhabitants, at approximately 70 and 52%, respectively. However, they are the most disadvantaged in terms of access to equal opportunities for personal and economic development. For instance, women are 15% more likely to live in extreme poverty, 7% more likely to face severe food insecurity, 30% more likely to be internet deprived, 90% engaged in informal, low-income jobs, 5.5% more likely to fail as start-up owners, and 15% more likely to lose their job as a consequence of the effects of climate and environmental degradation. Youth have also suffered a similar fate. Globally, Eastern and Central Africa has the highest rate of unemployed and underemployed youths. Youth unemployment ranges from over 50% to under 10%, depending on specific countries, averaging 25 to 30%. These figures are higher for young women compared to men.


O Our work

We strive to build our work around young men and women in the communities we work in. We leverage our efforts in food security, education, and WASH programs to create opportunities for youths and women to explore and earn decent livelihoods. To ensure continuity, we work to build the resilience of our beneficiaries by breaking down the barriers that deter them from exploring their full potential in improving their living conditions and trickling down the benefits for communal development.

So, what do we do?


Mentorship and upskilling

A mismatch of skills among job seekers is one of the causes of high unemployment rates in Sub-Saharan Africa. Almost half of all working youths in Sub-Saharan Africa are mismatched in skillset to their current jobs. Among these, over 35% of post-secondary and tertiary students are under-skilled for their current jobs. Our mentorship program seeks to address these challenges for young men and women in the initial stages of career advancement. We integrate a blended mentorship program that supports corporate training in line with national and regional policy frameworks. We emphasize upskilling in green curricula, exhibiting a heavy bias in selecting corporate training partners within the green solution industries.

We work with our development partners to support women/youth-owned and women/youth-led SMEs.

Dubbed ‘INUA MAMA’ and ‘INUA VIJANA’ initiatives, our SME intervention seeks to enhance the adaptive resilience and competitiveness of local businesses, thereby increasing their capacity to create more jobs and improve the economic potential of local communities. SMEs employ approximately 75% of the population in the region. This presents the most vital avenue for supporting economic growth and ending poverty. The initiative helps SMEs access new markets through digital and social marketing, leverage data for increased targeted sales efforts, and network for access to credits.  We support projects that enhance WASH, childhood education, and food security initiatives. We support boot camps for ideation and fund successful business ideas to their realization, under blended mentorship support.

O We support local initiatives to scale access to clean cooking energy
Clean cooking energy

Cooking is part of day-to-day life in African households. Families need at least three meals a day, which translates to two to three cooking sessions in a day. Unlike other parts of the world, over 70% of African homesteads still rely on wood fuel or paraffin for household cooking and lighting. These two have detrimental effects on health, the environment, and overall productivity. Smoke from fuel wood and paraffin has been linked to over two million annual fatalities. Women and children are disproportionally affected, with over 44% of fatalities being children and more than 60% of adult fatalities being women.  At FOPCO Africa, we have strategically partnered with local microfinance facilities to support local women and youth-led CBOs to produce clean cooking energy equipment to enhance access to cleaner fuel sources. To enhance these efforts, we engage our partners to support local SMEs to acquire and scale access to clean cooking energy solutions at competitive pricing and with blended payment options for end users.