Closed: Call for Solutions – Senegal

Deadline – 16 February 2022

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. Projects should result in decent employment for at least 250 young people, with a focus on women in particular.  Any Senegal-specific questions can be sent to:

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, it is clear that 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.

The CFYE Youth Action Research found that urban youth struggle to find employment and consider that the salaries they are offered are insufficient to sustain an entire family. There is a lot of pressure on the person working, often the only one in the family. Many lack basic education, and few have had any vocational training. They all need employment, but no one can afford to invest in education or specific training. Their aspirations vary strongly, from those willing to accept any job as long as the salary is enough to get by to those who want to set up their own business (e.g., honey processing, laundry, video production). They are not afraid of challenging jobs as long as they are within their reach.

Most youths feel 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. 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 spillover effects on the systemic/macro-economic level.

Call for Solutions

Based on the scoping study conducted from September to December 2021, this first call for solutions in Senegal is sector-agnostic, and proposals from all sectors will be considered. However, we specifically invite proposals covering the following sub-sectors based on their perceived high opportunities for the youth: Horticulture, food and beverage processing (agro-industry), ICT/digital services, construction, transport & logistics, and tourism. The main issue is not the sector, but the kind of jobs created, the quality of those jobs, and whether they are attractive to youth.

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

CFYE will work through private sector firms in high potential 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

  •  Our call for solutions will be launched on 13 January. We will host a webinar explaining details on 19 January.
  • On 8 February, we will host a second webinar to provide information on the submission process.
  • The deadline to submit Concept Notes is 16 February.

Eligibility Criteria

  1. Principles: Should adhere to CFYE’s guiding principles & priorities.
  2. Exclusion Criteria: The project and organizations 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 local operating presence in country.
  • The applicant must be able to begin operations no later than October 2022.
  1. 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.
  • 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.
  1. 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.
  2. Decency of Jobs: For jobs to qualify as “decent”, basic requirements include an average monthly income that is representative of the local living cost (depending on location), 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.
  3. Minimum Job Targets:
  • The minimum employment impact per project will be 250 jobs within the project timeframe (maximum 3 years).
  • The project must meet the minimum eligibility criteria for job targets through a combination of CFYE categories: create, match or improve.
  • 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.
  1. Gender Targets: Of the total youth employment created, matched, or improved, at least 33% should be for women. Higher women inclusion targets will be regarded favourably during evaluation.
  2. 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, or the income of the current year in case of a newly-established organisation. 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 300-800 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.
  1. 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.

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 the projects that will receive a grant. That means that only those projects that present a clear and convincing pathway to employment and lead to significant and sustainable results in decent employment for youth, focusing on young women and demonstrating high leverage, will be selected.

Webinar Recording

Stay Informed

Privacy notice

By submitting any of the adjacent forms, you are consenting to receive emails from Palladium, on behalf of the Challenge Fund for Youth Employment. You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by emailing us on

Read more here: Privacy Notice