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About the Challenge Fund for Youth Employment


The Fund aims to create a prosperous future for 230,000 young women and men in the Middle East, North Africa, Sahel & West Africa and Horn of Africa. This will be achieved by supporting youth employment initiatives in these regions. Initiatives will offer youth, particularly young women, opportunities for decent work that delivers better prospects for personal development, is productive, and offers a stable income, social protection and safe working conditions.

How does it work?

Private sector, civil society and knowledge institutions will be invited to submit proposals for initiatives to address specific challenges framed around creating scalable solutions for more and better jobs for youth. Solutions will be built around integrated approaches designed to bridge the mismatch between the demand for high quality jobs and the supply of skilled labour. They will be aligned with aspirations of young women and men in the regions.


Technical support will be available for applicants throughout the process. The Fund Manager will organise physical and online information sessions for potential applicants. Interested parties are welcome to contact the Fund Manager to discuss ideas and seek guidance or support for concept note development. Once projects are selected for implementation, tailored technical support will also be made available to maximise delivery of results.

The Challenge Fund for Youth Employment (CFYE) is a 7-year programme funded by the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Fund is managed by the Palladium Group, Randstad and VSO. 

How to apply?

Process of application

Twice a year the Fund will open a thematic call for concept notes whereby applicants are invited to submit their ideas for projects responding to a challenge in a specific country or region. The call for concept notes will be published on the website and through social media channels.

Once submitted, concept notes will be assessed by a panel of experts and youth representatives. Successful applicants will be invited to submit a full business case. This should describe the pathway to results, the budget and the financing strategy. On average, the contribution of the Challenge Fund will be one third of the total project budget.

Who can apply?

There are no restrictions to who can apply to the Fund. Ideas are invited from private sector organisations, civil society and knowledge institutions or from a consortium involving two or more partners. Regardless the status of the applicant, all concept notes and business cases will be assessed against the same criteria.

Since proposed initiatives should have a clear pathway to decent work for youth, both youth themselves and employers will be involved in the design of the project. All projects will need to report on their results and the financial contributions made by the Fund will be clearly linked to the achievement of those results.

In addition, the Fund is looking for sustainable and scalable initiatives implemented by partners who will be able to contribute on average two thirds of the total project budget.


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