Employment quality matters for overall well-being. According to the Interational Labor Organization (ILO), 86% of employment in Africa is in the informal sector. Very few young people in Africa and the Middle East can afford to be unemployed, so in the absence of a stable job, they earn a living through unstable or underpaid work. Job stability has been further undermined by the COVID-19 pandemic, forcing business closures, reducing workers’ ability to go to work, and placing an extra burden of care on parents whose children are unable to go to school or day care.
Part of our goal is to change the nature of the jobs that young people already have, moving out of precarious, unstable or underpaid employment into stable jobs that pay well and meet employment conditions that matter to them. We work with projects that help businesses improve working conditions for existing employees, as well as projects that make self-employment more formal, more steady, or more decent. Given the ongoing threat of pandemic-related job losses, we also support businesses to adapt their strategies in order to continue operating and improve job security for existing workers.
The ILO refers to good work as “decent work.” However, to apply the decent work framework in practice, the local context (related to types of jobs available, regulation and working conditions) is critical. Therefore, the way we look at decent work varies from project to project, and may emphasize one or more aspects of job quality, such as income/benefits; safety/well-being; working time and work life balance; social protection; job security; and the ability to engage in social dialogue. We support initiatives that listen to young people, especially women, to understand what decent work means to them.
- Woorden Daad, in Uganda, supports young farmers to increase productivity of existing coffee farms and diversify their income streams, by introducing beekeeping and shade tree planting.
- Abusiness accelerator provides technical assistance to SMEs to strengthen HR systems and formalize employment contracts, leading to greater job security and job satisfaction among young employees of the SMEs.
- An ecommerce platform isexpanding its offerings andengaging self-employed artisans (mainly women, who previously sold goods primarily at physical marketplaces) as vendors on the platform. This provides a safe and convenient way for the artisans to sell their goods, leading to greater income stability and increases in net income.
- Asector-based organization works with a network of factories to improve working conditions, by helping to set up onsite childcare facilities and supporting development and implementation of policies and procedures to promote health and safety. This helps with retention of young women workers, while improving employee wellness and reducing workplace injuries.