Closed: Call for Solutions – Tunisia

CFYE strives to disrupt the employment status quo for Tunisian youth. We are calling for innovative private-sector-led solutions that create, improve, or match decent work for youth in Tunisia, with a focus on women in particular.  Please direct any queries to

Deadline – 18 March 2022

The Challenge

A country of 11.7 million nestled in the northernmost tip of Africa, Tunisia has long been heralded as a role model for its regional peers in terms of technological innovation and impressive growth in the decades following its independence. However, this growth failed to address the deep-rooted disparities between the coastal regions and the neglected interior and southern regions of Tunisia, leading to widespread unrest and the Jasmine Revolution of 2011.  

In the following decade, Tunisia has faced budgetary pressures, a devaluing currency, and economic stagnation. The public sector has implemented fiscal and structural reforms to boost the economy and improve its performance in key sectors. It has focused on establishing robust, democratic institutions but has been met with challenges due to ongoing political volatility. Meanwhile, a decade after the revolution, disillusioned youth continue to demand better economic opportunities.  

The deepening economic impact of the pandemic two years on, along with regional disparity, low job creation, and an education system that has been unresponsive to labor demand, has led to staggering unemployment figures. By September 2021, the national unemployment rate stood at 18.4%, with 28.5% of youth Not in Education, Employment, or Training (NEETs). Unemployment disproportionately impacts university graduates, women, and youth.  

The private sector cannot absorb the large numbers of new labor market entrants, leading to labor supply pressures. A largely unintegrated labor market system leads to inefficiencies in filling available jobs with the appropriate talent. Many new private-sector jobs are informal (46%), characterized by low wages and low quality. 

Action is needed to stimulate job creation, address the gaps between employee skillsets and employer requirements, tackle the exclusion of graduates, women and youth, and improve the quality of existing jobs. The Challenge Fund for Youth Employment will focus on co-funding initiatives with a short to medium-term impact, which consider the structural barriers and test innovative approaches that carry spill-over effects on the macro-economic level. 

Call for Solutions

CFYE will co-invest in innovative, private sector-led initiatives that enable businesses to create, match or improve jobs for youth. We invite all entities that wish to invest in projects that generate decent employment for youth (aged 15 to 35), to present proposals for co-funding from CFYE. In particular, we are seeking to support value-adding and growth-oriented agri-businesses, the booming textile sector, and businesses using digitally-enabled solutions to enhance job opportunities for youth 

All projects should result in decent employment for young people (aged 15 to 35), especially young women. Projects should propose sustainable solutions for the creation of jobs, embedding decency of work, aspirations of the youth, sensitivity to gender and other inclusion requirements, and compliance with the labor laws of Tunisia. 

  • Opening: The Tunisia Call for Solutions opened on 14 February 2022. 
  • Webinar: We will host an informational webinar to formally launch the Call for Solutions on 18 February 2022. A recording will be made available on this page. 
  • Deadline: The deadline for submission of Concept Notes is 18 March 2022. 

A second information webinar will be scheduled in the first week of March to provide a refresher on selection priorities and the submission process. 


Co-investment in high-growth potential SMEs in the value chain of the agri-business sector

CFYE aims to support Tunisia in transforming the agricultural sector into a value-adding sector with export-driven growth. This window will support the scaling-up of commercial agribusinesses to access new markets and value chains. Applicants’ use of environmentally sustainable and climate-resilient practices and an integrated strategy for social inclusion (for example, working with female-led suppliers or community inclusion) would be regarded favorably during evaluation. The following target numbers apply for this window: minimum number of jobs impacted (0ver three years) – 250; minimum number of jobs for Least Developed Governorates – 200. 

Examples of project ideas in this window can relate to: 

  • Create: A consortium of agribusinesses in olive oil processing partner with a financial institution to develop their own packaging unit. As a result, the project will create hundreds of jobs for youth. 
  • Match: A consortium of agribusinesses partner with a training provider to provide youth with skills required on the job. Successful participants are matched with openings at partner companies in the consortium. 
  • Improve: Solutions in this category will particularly focus on improving the decency or quality of jobs that youth are currently employed in the agri-business sector. Project ideas could include: formalising businesses that are currently informal, ideas for enabling women to work flexibly, and ideas that advance the decent work agenda for manufacturing employees, focusing on several of the following aspects: 
  • Living income/wage, in particular, focusing on redressing the gender wage gap by supporting women into jobs in higher-paid sectors and occupations or into senior positions within firms and improving their career prospects in general. This category also includes introducing policies for ensuring workers are compensated for overtime and transportation. 
  • Security in the workplace, including physical safety provisions that take into account the particular needs of women (e.g., safe transport to and from work, appropriate bathroom facilities) and protection against psychosocial hazards such as sexual harassment or discrimination (e.g., social support systems for workers). 
  • Social protection for families that does not reinforce women’s traditional roles and responsibilities but contributes to the transformation of gender relations in economic and social spheres (e.g., maternity leave, childcare provision or subsidies for working mothers or single fathers to access childcare).  
  • Prospects for personal development and social integration by conducting risk assessments of how a job or a promotion within a job might affect how a worker is perceived and treated in their family and community, and deploying strategies to mitigate against any harm (e.g., community outreach activities to protect women employees against domestic recriminations for working). 

Co-investment in matching programs for digital skills development & large-scale employment through digitally-enabled jobs across service sectors

Digital business development services using technology to create new value in business models, customer experiences, and the internal capabilities that support its core operations, have high potential to impact jobs at scale. This window covers e-commerce as well as traditional brick-and-mortar players that are transforming their businesses with digital technologies (ICT, Finance (Fintechs), Education, Health, E-commerce, offshoring, etc.) There is also good potential for providing opportunities for women, as the work often enables remote work and flexibility in timings. Moreover, as per our scoping research, digitally-enabled jobs align strongly with youth aspirations. While direct digital business models are typically deployed in urban and semi-urban areas, this can also be a viable solution to connect with rural markets.

Examples of project ideas can relate to: 

  • Create: Companies can create job opportunities for youth for supplying or using new digital business management tools for B2B service delivery. Another example in this category is companies adopting e-commerce B2C delivery models and providing digital or logistics jobs. 
  • Match: Matching platforms can partner with SMEs to provide digital skills training and match youth to opportunities with employers that join the consortium. Note: CFYE will not support training-only projects. Training institutions or matching platforms must partner with private sector companies with confirmed demand for jobs.  
  • Improve: Providing working mothers with access to flexible working arrangements, childcare, safe transportation, etc. Equality of opportunity and treatment,for example, applying a gender and inclusion lens to firms’ HR practices, especially at hiring and promotion stages (avoiding highly masculinised language in job descriptions, avoiding unconscious bias in training, establishing clear evaluation criteria, etc.). 

Co-investment in high-growth potential SMEs in the textiles and garments sector

The textile sector is the top employer in the country, employing 205,911 people, or 46% of all manufacturing jobs. As a leading contributor to the export market, textile companies require skilled employees to fuel innovation, growth, and competitiveness. This window focuses on mobilizing human capital for medium to high-skilled jobs for growth-oriented SMEs in the textile sector. As the textile sector is a large employer for women, there is an opportunity to improve working conditions and attract more women to enter/remain in the job market. Companies incorporating renewable energy in their production processes will be regarded favorably during evaluation. 

Examples of project ideas can relate to:  

  • Create: An SME with a co-investment from a venture capital company proposes an extension project to increase firm production capacity to engage in exports to the EU market. 
  • Match: Technical and Vocational Education & Training centers (TVETs) or other private matching platforms can partner with SMEs to provide the requisite training skills and match youth to suitable opportunities or design apprenticeship opportunities followed by employment. Note: CFYE will not support training-only projects. Training institutions or matching platforms must partner with private sector companies with confirmed demand for jobs.  
  • Improve: See examples under Window 1. 

Eligibility Criteria

CFYE is looking to co-invest in innovative and sustainable private sector-led initiatives in high potential sectors, which can meet the aspirations of the youth, improve their access to decent jobs, and empower women.

1. Principles 

Applicants 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. Applicant Profile 

  • We actively welcome partnerships or consortium responses to this challenge.  
  • 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 access to decent employment.   
  • Business accelerators and impact investors are also eligible.  
  • Non-profit entities (NGOs, Business Associations and Clusters) are welcome to apply, but if they are the lead applicant, they must apply in consortium with a private-sector partner with confirmed labour demand.   
  • We have a strong preference to work with fast-growing small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). 
  • We encourage applicants from Least Developed Governorates. 

4. Job type 

  • Newly created jobs should focus on wage employment or partial self-employment (working with agents). 
  • Jobs for youth can be at any level from low-skilled to high-skilled. 
  • Jobs can be full-time or part time (at least 6 months per year). 

 5. Decency of Jobs 

For any job created, matched or improved, the average monthly income is at least 450 Tunisians Dinars (TND), has no more than 48 hours per week of work, and jobs are maintained for at least 6 months.    

6. Total Youth Job Targets 

  • The submitted projects for the CFYE Call for Solutions must meet the minimum eligibility criteria for job targets (see Table 1), through a combination of CFYE categories: create, match or improve.  
  • For projects that fall outside the three windows, the minimum criteria is 250 jobs. 
  • Higher job targets showing cost-effectiveness will be regarded favorably during evaluation.   

7. Women inclusion  

  • Of the total youth employment created, matched, or improved, at least 33% are for women. Higher women inclusion targets will be regarded favorably during evaluation.  

8. Business development stage 

Applications should not be at ideation stage, but piloted concepts ready for scaling up. 

9. 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. Sources of co-funding must follow the guidance provided in the Concept Note guidance pack on the website.   
  • Applications that require lower co-investment by CFYE will be viewed favourably during evaluation. Suggested range for CFYE co-investment is 20-50%.    
  • 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 cost per job is competitive.   
  • Suggested range for cost per job to CFYE (Total CFYE co-investment / total # of jobs created, improved, or matched) is between 300-800 Euros. Projects presenting higher cost per job than this range may be considered if there is a compelling and feasible developmental additionality (eg. high inclusion of vulnerable groups).  

10. Youth inclusion 

The jobs created, matched or improved would 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.  

11. Additionality 

Additionality is a central consideration in the assessment of the proposed projects. CFYE co-financing must be additional to the proposed project, i.e., funding is channeled to bring about activities and further investments in youth employment which would not otherwise occur (either at all, in the same timeframe, or to the same scale or quality). 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.  

Large enterprises are welcome to apply but must demonstrate strong additionality of CFYE co-funding. 

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, lead to significant and sustainable results in terms of decent employment for youth, with a focus on young women, and can demonstrate high leverage will be selected. 

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