Yemen is experiencing a stifling economic crisis caused by the ongoing war. This crisis has forced many people out of their jobs, rendering them unable to support their families and children. And the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has further curtailed employment opportunities.
With a growing number of people in need of assistance, the Vocational and Business Skills Training and Support Project (VBSTS) of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Yemen has responded with crucial support. The project provides Yemeni youth in the governorates of Hadramout and Lahj with the vocational and business skills they need to establish and sustain their careers.
Funded generously by the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre (KSrelief), the project is implemented by UNDP in partnership with the Small and Micro Enterprises Promotion Service (SMEPS). Furthermore, the support introduces products developed by the trainees to the local market to help the young entrepreneurs grow their businesses.
As such, the project recently organized a bazaar to market the young entrepreneurs’ products produced by participants from the Tuban District (Lahj governorate) after they completed training and received in-kind grants to help them establish and improve their projects.
Juma’ah Saif, a food-processing trainee, says, “The vocational training changed my life for the better. I gained experience and skill and received a US$ 700 in-kind grant from the project. This grant covered the cost of the equipment needed to start my own business, which will save me money and help me be self-reliant and help others,” she added.
Juma’ah is one of many women living in difficult conditions without a traditional job. She received her opportunity for training and support and developed a variety of pickled vegetables that she makes at home. These products provide an adequate income that covers the needs of her family. Today, Juma’ah produces a wide range of products including lemons, cucumbers, carrots, tamarind, and mango pickles.
Abdulbari Omar, Project Officer from UNDP’s local implementing partners, SMEPS, says, "In addition to vocational training identified according to his specialization, the youth received valuable training in business and administrative skills, as well as how to develop a project, and setting plans to start their own business.”
The project helps young people with entrepreneurial projects, assisting them to develop their ideas and providing them with business training while they acquire new skills. “The aim of the bazaar,” says Omar, is "to promote the beneficiaries' products, introduce them to one another, and connect them to local markets so they can market and sell their products and continue developing their projects."
"I have been working in Ma'awaz looming since I was a child, but I needed to learn administrative skills and delve into the more technical side of business.” says Abdulhadi Ezzi. He adds “I learned how to deal with machine breakdowns and how to fix them, and I received US$ 750 worth of sewing supplies.” SMEPS training has changed the way Ezzi views his business. He is now growing his business and has expanded his product line to include different types of Ma’awaz.
Omar Al-Sumati, the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) Unit Manager in the Lahj Governorate, talks about the project’s importance for developing rural women's economic self-reliance. “The project plays a significant role in developing community capacity instead of relying upon charitable support. It directly supports sustainability since the benefits continue after the project ends. It is based upon participants’ capacity to develop their projects, market, and sell their products to obtain a sustainable income that helps them provide their needs.”
The project is especially vital for poor and low-income families, especially those experiencing high prices, deteriorating economic conditions, and interruptions of salary payments. Mohsen Al-Saqqaf, Tuban District’s Director General, says “Today we can see the project’s results in the many professional skills acquired by the trainees in different areas, including food processing. They all presented quality products which will reflect positively on the entire community and will help guarantee them a decent life.”
Nadhrah Mohammed, a food processing trainee, says “I gained multiple experiences and learned to make pickles and pastries, and I was able to set up my own business. Now I work to help my family, and I’m doing well selling my products.”
Huda Abdo’s life is not much different from her colleague, Nadhrah. She, too, is a food processing trainee who used to make pickles at home. "I joined the training and learned about identifying market needs and marketing techniques to establish and grow my business.” She adds, “I received a US$ 700 in-kind grant to purchase the tools and raw materials needed. Now, I not only support my family, but can also save some money to join the university.”
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.