Youth entrepreneurship is hugely important for Yemen’s economic recovery – particularly as economic challenges persist and the deterioration of living conditions continue due to the ongoing conflict.
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has several projects that help Yemeni youth living in rural areas to improve their entrepreneurial skills and start their own projects. One such effort is the Vocational and Business Skills Training and Support Project that provides rural youth with a range of professional, technical, and commercial skills. By helping to encourage entrepreneurship with the youth, it increases their employability and productive engagement in the recovery of the local economy.
In response to Yemen’s crisis, UNDP has forged a partnership with the Small and Micro Enterprise Promotion Service (SMEPS) and the support of King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSrelief) to conduct a training programme in the district of Al Raidah and Qusaier in the Hadramout governorate. The programme is designed to provide training to participants with theoretical and practical knowledge related to vocational businesses and trades of their choice. The training helps the youth acquire the skills necessary to establish and maintain their own businesses. It also facilitates economic growth and nurture a culture of entrepreneurship in the society.
“The information and skills I learned from the business skills and food processing trainings were very useful,” says Nawaf Al-Jariri, a programme trainee. “The project grant will definitely contribute to improving my work and increase financial revenue. My project will also create job opportunities for my family and community.” Nawaf adds that he was supported with some equipment and special materials as part of that grant.
Fatima BaHashwan, a food processing trainee in the programme, indicates that she has “…acquired a lot of skills and expanded my knowledge of my profession.”. She adds that “The grant will improve my business and help increase my income.” Fatima is passionate about her dairy products business that she plans to expand and open her own dairy products store.
The UNDP/SMEPS vocational training covered several areas including food processing, carpentry, textiles and handloom, fishing nets maintenance, and maintenance services.
Aisha BaWazeer, one of the food processing trainees says, "The theoretical and practical vocational training was my kick-start in entrepreneurship. I acquired the knowledge and necessary skills for project management and sustainability." She adds, "Now I can set up my yogurt and pickles-making business because the grant has provided me with the necessary tools and materials." Aisha hopes that her project continues to grow so she can help her family. She would like to use the profits to also fund her children’s school and create a better life for them.
Helping these young people to establish sustainable businesses is not limited to ensuring income for their families, but it also complements the efforts to revitalize livelihoods which will contribute to the economic recovery in the country.
“The training has expanded my knowledge and helped me develop new skills," says Amin Salem, a carpentry trainee. "I can now run my carpentry workshop efficiently. I am determined to develop my business and become a pioneer in this field,” he adds. “I’m already getting good offers in the carpentry and furniture-making industry. The grant I received covers the cost for the equipment and materials I needed the most for my business. All of that will have a significant impact on my income and my living conditions.”
As part of the training programme, all participants also receive a theoretical grounding in their various fields. They then advance to vocational and technical training where they learn from experienced and professional trainers in their specialized areas. In the final stage, participants develop their business plans and receive the basic tools and equipment they need to put what they have learned into practice.
Anas Saeed Bin Faraj, one of the fishing nets maintenance trainees, describes his financial situation as difficult. “I was unemployed and I had difficulties working,” he explains. “The programme helped me work and make a living. I came up with a plan for a fishing net business with the help of the business advisors,” he adds. “Now I’m working, and I can meet my family’s needs.”
Shaker Mohammed, a car mechanic trainee, explains that the training programme is a milestone in his life as it has boosted his car mechanic’s skills. “The grant I have received will help me get new and modern equipment to improve my workshop capabilities,” he explains. Shaker is determined to develop his business, especially since there is a high demand for car maintenance services.
"I am passionate about weaving and I want to start a Ma'awiz weaving business. This training is the first step towards achieving my dream,” says Siham Mahrous, a textile weaving trainee. “This training has equipped me with the necessary skills in business management,” she adds, and will “change our life and improve our living”.
The Vocational and Business Skills Training and Support Project is funded by the King Salman Humanitarian Aid & Relief Center (KSrelief) and implemented in partnership with the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the Small and Micro Enterprise Promotion Service (SMEPS). The US$ 3,000,000 project helps improve Yemeni livelihoods and access to productive services through provision of training and support in: agro-business and food processing, textiles, and handloom, in addition to technical skills (carpentry, and maintenance of cars, mobile phones and appliances). The project also provides project participants with training on business planning and management.