Call for Solutions – Kenya

Deadline: 26 February 2021

CFYE wants to co-invest in innovative private sector-led initiatives that provide businesses with access to suitably skilled personnel and help them to increase their employment of youth between the ages of 16-35. Any Kenya specific questions can be sent to

The Challenge

For sustainable economic development that has the potential to transform the lives of Kenyan households, there is a need for higher productivity jobs with higher levels of value addition – therefore resulting in higher GDP per capita. This requires a three-dimensional shift:

  • A shift to more productive sectors that create more value for the economy, for example from primary agriculture to the use of technology in farming: investing more in value chains, food processing, manufacturing, and construction.
  • Developing more productive sub-sectors with specific services and products that help other (sub)sectors perform better, for example, business development services and technological innovations.
  • A shift from lower productivity self-employment to (semi-)formal employment in productive firms.

Call for Solutions

Our research has shown us that despite a wide range of challenges to youth employment, there is clear potential for young women and men to find decent employment. We have formulated two specific windows that focus on two sub-sectors: Digital Business Development Services and Green Jobs. CFYE wants to co-invest in innovative private sector-led initiatives that provide businesses with access to suitably skilled personnel and help them to increase their employment of youth between the ages of 16-35.

We have selected the two thematic focus-areas based on our labour demand assessment, which in turn considered 1) observed unmet labour demand, 2) match to youth’s need and interests, 3) opportunity for cross-sectoral flexibility with one skillset, and 4) potential for high productivity jobs with negative environmental or social impact.

Eligibility Criteria

The following general criteria for eligible proposals apply:

  • Employment type: Initiatives in both the informal and formal sectors are eligible. However, they should focus on wage employment or semi-employment (working with agents or other semi- self-employed positions as part of a company’s business model). Fully independent self-employment without a matching mechanism with confirmed off-takers of products or services is not eligible.
  • Business Development stage: We are looking for readily tested concepts ready for scaling up or scaling out (meaning already scaled up but ready to diversify). Idea stage ideas are not eligible. Lead applicants need to have been in active business for at least 2 years.
  • Lead applicant: Both companies and NGOs are eligible as lead applicants, but there should be a business in the consortium (with confirmed labour demand) if an NGO is the lead applicant.
  • Minimum number of jobs: The minimum number of jobs that need to be created, improved, or matched is 500, although we hope to receive proposals with higher numbers due to the focus on agency style business models.
  • Decency of work: Basic requirements include an average monthly income at living wage level (at least Sh 23,400 depending on location), no more than 48 hours/week of work and jobs are maintained for at least 6 months.
  • Thematic focus: Eligible projects need to focus on one of two windows: Digital Business Development Services or Scaling up Green Jobs.


As we have identified two thematic areas with opportunities for youth employment, we have split our call for proposals into two windows. Each applicant must choose whether to submit a proposal for Window 1: Digital Business Development Services or Window 2: Scaling Up Green Jobs. Applications that do not match either of these windows (and thus type of employment opportunitieswill not be considered. 

Digital Business Development Services

Situation: This window is relevant for both the demand and supply sides of the labour market. Youth are generally interested in innovative and digital ways of working. Digital BDS developments can support many other actors on the demand side – be it individuals or businesses- to improve their own businesses (B2B) or improve access to products and services (B2C). This subsector also allows companies and organisations to deploy their employees more remotely. Although direct digital business models are usually developed and deployed in urban and semiurban areas, it can also be a solution to connect with rural markets.


Definition: Digital Business Development Services use technology to create new value in business models, customer experiences and the internal capabilities that support its core operations. This covers both digital-only brands and traditional players that are transforming their businesses with digital technologies.


This window cuts across more than one (sub-)sector and can include ICT, e-commerce, creative sectors, and digital agribusiness solutions. Hence, this window allows for a variety of private-sector driven project ideas, and we invite you to be creative yet build market demand. Examples of eligible project ideas relate to:

  •  Informal and formal job-matching platforms or apps with confirmed employers
  •  Supplying or using digital business management tools, like digital data management models for service delivery
  • E-commerce & related delivery models for MSMEs and corporates providing both digital or logistical jobs for either employees or semi-employees (e.g. independent transporters hired by company).

Scaling Up Green Jobs

Situation: The majority of unemployed and underemployed youth are based in rural areas. The labour demand in rural areas is often agriculture-related and usually seasonal and therefore, volatile. The offered jobs often require limited skills, offer limited security, and have low productivity or added value to local economies. At the same time, Kenya has a wealth of natural resources that is not optimally used.


Definition: Green growth means fostering economic growth and development while ensuring that natural assets continue to provide the resources and environmental services on which our well-being relies.


This window invites applicants that have already tested innovative business models, products, or services in the green growth landscape. Our envisioned applicants are ready to scale up their activities, which involves significant increase in their labour demand.

We are specifically looking for jobs to be created within ‘green’ business models. Green business models refer to companies or organisations with productive and environmentally & socially sustainable activities in amongst others the following sectors: agriculture, agribusiness, renewable energy, waste management & recycling.

We are also very interested in employment creating projects focused on greening traditionally not sustainable business models/cases like construction, manufacturing, and transport. In general, any clean tech-based business models would be eligible.

Examples of eligible projects:

  • Value addition solutions that increase/diversify sales by higher or alternative processing levels, creating additional product variety, making use of excess produce, and even creating opportunities for other sectors to generate income from crop and animal products.
  • Circular economy initiatives supporting waste management while creating demand for recycled products like plastics and animal feeds.

Webinar Window 1: 

Join our Webinar

We will organize a webinar prior to launching our call to provide further info on what type of project we can and would like to fund. Please register for the webinar that fits your business idea best.

Window 1: Digital Business Support Service, focusing on applications offering technological solutions or using technology-based business models to enhance business performance within companies, between companies or between companies and consumers. This includes for example ICT in general, e-commerce and the creative sector. Watch the replay above. 
18 January at 16.00 Kenya time – Window 2: Scaling up Green Jobs, focusing on applications with environmentally and socially responsible business models that scale up existing innovations or business models – creating jobs along the way. This includes for example higher value agribusiness or any clean-tech solutions. Register here.

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.

The Call for Solutions will be officially opened on Friday January 22. An eligibility check with subsequent access to the Concept Note Template will be made available on this webpage. We will send an update to all interested parties who registered to be kept up to date below.

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