Closed: Call for Solutions – Senegal

The Challenge Fund for Youth Employment is calling for innovative private-sector-led solutions that create, improve or match decent work for youth in Senegal. For more information on our scope of work in Senegal, please visit the Senegal Portfolio page.

Deadline – 4 September (EOD, local time) 2023

The Challenge

Senegal’s job creation challenge is in many ways typical of the Sub-Saharan African region. It has a very young population, with over 80% under 35. The median age is 19. According to official figures, the unemployment rate is estimated at 16.9%. The unemployment rate for youth under 35 is even higher. This rate rose sharply from 12.2% in 2011 to 20.6% in 2016. While youth unemployment is lower in rural areas, a large part of the employed youth is underemployed due to the precariousness of the agricultural sector, which is dominated by informality and seasonality, and the lack of formal jobs in other sectors.

In Senegal, the high unemployment rate for youth is driven mainly by first-time job seekers looking for the first work experience that is so important yet so difficult to obtain. With about 300,000 new entrants to the labour market each year, the supply of new jobs is estimated at only 30,000. Thus, there are not enough decent opportunities being created for Senegalese youth. Hence, it is not surprising that almost 90% of youth are employed in informal jobs, and most of those jobs can be characterized as precarious in terms of job security and income level. The COVID-19 pandemic has further compounded the vulnerability of youth and women in the informal sector.

Among other findings, the CFYE Youth Action Research found out that most youth feels that their education has not equipped them adequately for the job market. Employers also report the need for additional training and a lack of soft and employability skills. Action is needed to tackle the skills mismatch in the labour market so that young people are not left out and economic growth is stimulated.

Senegal is committed to aligning its economy with global shift towards a more sustainable and digitally connected world. The country has been implementing the PSE Vert, a green adaptation of the original Plan Senegal Emergent and the SN2025 Digital Strategy which are supported by financial and technical partners and should contribute to create a more sustainable and inclusive economy creating employment opportunities, empowering its youth and women. Greener, cleaner and more connected economy, with a strong focus on agriculture that employs over 60 % of the country’s workforce.

The Challenge Fund for Youth Employment will focus on co-funding initiatives with a short to medium-term impact, considering the structural barriers and testing innovative approaches that carry spill over effects on the systemic/macro-economic level.

Call for Solutions

With this second call for solutions in Senegal, the Challenge Fund for Youth Employment will focus on green and digital jobs and will not consider proposals from other sectors. Therefore, we are specifically inviting proposals in the Green and Digital sub-sectors based on their perceived high opportunities for the youth. These include, but are not limited to sustainable agriculture, Agtech platforms, E-commerce platforms, ICT/digital services, waste management and circular economy. 

CFYE wants to co-invest in innovative private sector-led initiatives that enable businesses to create, improve youth employment and match youth skills with private sector needs. All projects should result in decent employment for at least 250 young people (aged 18 to 35), including 40% young women.

CFYE will work through private sector firms in the focused sectors, implementing sustainable solutions for the creation of jobs for women and youth, and embedding decency of work, aspirations of the youth, empowerment of women, sensitivity to gender and other inclusion requirements, and compliance with the labor laws of Senegal.

Key Dates

  1. Our call for solutions launched on July 29 and the portal for Concept Note submission opened on the same day.
  2. The deadline to submit Concept Notes is September 4.

Eligibility Criteria

The following eligibility criteria will apply to all windows: 

1. Principles: Should be able to adhere to CFYE’s guiding principles & priorities. 

2. Exclusion Criteria: The project and organisations involved in delivering the project must pass the FMO exclusion criteria. 

3. Operational Criteria:

  • The lead applicant, or at least one of the consortium partners, must have a local operating presence in the country.
  • The applicant must be able to begin operations no later than April 2024.

4. Applicant Profile:

  • We strongly invite applications from private sector companies, as we believe that private sector involvement is the most effective way to develop and test market-based solutions that respond to the challenge of youth employment.
  • Lead applicant should be a formal company with at least 3 years of existence. The company should be able to share audited financial accounts with the evaluation team.
  • Large enterprises are welcome to apply but must demonstrate strong additionality of CFYE co-funding.
  • Business accelerators and impact investors are also eligible.
  • Non-profit entities may also apply, but if they are the lead applicant, they must apply together with a private-sector partner with confirmed labour demand.

5. Job Type:Jobs may focus on wage employment or (partial) self-employment. The jobs created, matched, or improved must be for youth aged 18-35 years. The proposal must demonstrate that the aspirations and requirements of youth have been taken into consideration in the design of the concept.

6. Decency of Jobs: For jobs to qualify as “decent”, basic requirements include an average monthly income that is representative of the local living cost (no less than 150 000 XOF), no more than 48 hours/week of work, jobs maintained for at least 6 months and compliance with the labour laws of Senegal. Internships are not considered to be decent jobs.

7. Minimum Job Targets:
The minimum employment impact per project will be 250 jobs within the project timeframe (maximum 2 years). Job created, matched or improved should pay a minimum of 150 000 XOF per month, last at least 6 months and benefit.

Gender Targets: Of the total youth employment created, matched, or improved, at least 40% should be for women. Higher women inclusion targets will be regarded favourably during evaluation. (A project with a job target below the one defined for this call could be considered but this will have to be justified by a higher women inclusion target.)

  • There should be a clear Pathway to Employment in the project approach. CFYE will not support training-only projects.
  • Employment creation, matching or improvement (of jobs) must be a direct outcome of the project.

8. Budget Guidelines:

  • The minimum contribution of the fund is €100,000. This should be matched by a co-investment that is at least equal to the contribution requested. For eligible sources of co-funding please check the guidelines provided in the Concept Note guidance pack on the website.
  • The contribution requested from CFYE is expected to be within a reasonable range, in comparison with the lead organisation’s average annual turnover in previous years. If the amount requested is significantly larger, CFYE requires an explanation as to how the organisation/project intends to manage the funds and match it with their own contribution. Guidance around the proof of managing finances is provided in the Business Case guidance.
  • There is no maximum grant amount stipulated, but we will consider whether the budget is realistic and whether the applicant can raise the required co-funding. We will also assess if the grant cost per job is competitive.
  • Suggested range for CFYE grant cost per job (= total CFYE co-investment / total # of jobs) is in the range of 400-800 Euros.
  • Projects with a higher cost per job than this range may be considered if there is a compelling and feasible developmental additionality (e.g. high inclusion of women – in high-level jobs – or high inclusion of youth in remote areas).
  • Projects that demonstrate value for money and cost-effectiveness will be viewed favourably during evaluation.
  • Applicant’s in-kind contribution may not exceed 30% of their co-investment.
  • Capital investment (capex) request from CFYE must not exceed 33% of the total investment

9. Additionality: Additionality is a central consideration in the review of proposed projects. CFYE co-financing must be additional to the proposed project, i.e. funding is provided to bring about activities and further investments in youth employment which would not otherwise occur (either at all, in the same way, time-frame, or to the same scale, quality, or speed). The provision of funding through a contract or grant agreement must not substitute or replace an organisation’s core funding, or crowd out other funding sources.

Want to apply?

Download the application brochure below. You can find the link to our application portal in Concept Note Template and Guidance.

Relevant Documentation

Want to know what to expect in our application process? Please have a look at the below documents.

Competitive Process

The Challenge Fund for Youth Employment will apply a competitive process to select projects that will receive a grant. This means that only projects presenting a clear and convincing pathway to employment, leading to significant and sustainable results in decent jobs for youth, with a specific focus on young women, and demonstrating high leverage will be selected. 

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