Closed: Call for Solutions – Sudan

Deadline: 18 March 2021 (18:00 hours Sudan Time)

CFYE strives to disrupt the employment status quo for Sudanese youth. We are calling for innovative private-sector-led solutions that create, improve, or match decent work for youth in Sudan, with a focus on women in particular.  Any Sudan specific questions can be sent to

The Challenge

Sudan has an extremely young population, with over 60% of the population under the age of 25. Youth unemployment has increased sharply in recent years, in particular in urban areas. According to recent estimates, young people are twice as likely to be unemployed as adults. On top of that, gender gaps in the labor market remain huge.

We are calling upon Sudan-based organizations – either from or focusing on the private sector – for solutions. Do you want to create jobs for youth, are you ready to scale up rapidly and are you looking for co-funding?

Call for Solutions

Projects presented should show a clear pathway to job creation or improvement, whether the focus is on improving the supply of labor, creating more labor demand, matching youth to decent jobs, or – in combination with any of the previous criteria – sustaining jobs at risk. The comments below, based on our own scoping research, can serve as guidelines for applicants while designing their ideas. Projects ideas that fall outside the scope outlined below will also be considered.

1. Creating new jobs:

  • Medium-skilled jobs in growth sectors: There is potential for significant impact in job creation in fast-growing industrial sectors such as manufacturing and agribusiness.
  • Digitization across sectors: Capitalizing on the value of Sudan’s human capital and the new collaboration opportunities brought about by the opening up of Sudan’s economy, there is huge scope for increasing productivity by introducing tech-based solutions. The COVID19 pandemic has accelerated this process and clearly demonstrated that the more technologically integrated firms are, the more resilient they will be to external shocks. While technological advances will affect the distribution of jobs and dynamics of the labor market, innovation will certainly boost competitiveness, productivity, and job growth in the knowledge economy.

2. Matching jobs: Unemployment is especially high among university (or higher qualified) graduates in Sudan. At the same time, employers are hard-pressed to find suitable candidates for entry-level positions. Anecdotal evidence through conversations with key informants shows that employers prefer that youth are strong in soft skills including leadership, time management, organization, and business writing, and are willing to train on technical aspects on-the-job.

3. Improving jobs: Solutions in this category will mainly focus on blue-collar jobs in the industrial or agricultural sector, aimed at improving the decency or quality of jobs that youth are currently employed in. Solutions should be focusing on several of the following aspects:

  • Living income/wage
  • Security in the workplace
  • Social protection for families
  • Prospects for personal development and social integration
  • Equality of opportunity and treatment

The Covid pandemic is expected to bring about a loss of jobs across multiple sectors. Sudan seems to have been less hard-hit than other countries in the region. However, studies by 249 Startups and the World Bank suggest that, in particular, small firms have suffered from the lockdown. The long-term economic fallout remains to be seen. Thus, interventions that make a strong case for “sustaining” jobs that would otherwise be at risk as a result of the pandemic may also be considered, but only in combination with any of the previous 3 categories. Sustained jobs are considered to be part of the improved category.

Adding Priority

1. Services: The services sector has been growing steadily in recent years, in terms of contribution to GDP and employment. The sector still has a lot of growth potential, in particular for women.

  • Digital Business Support Services, offering technological solutions or 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.The ride-hailing/sharing digital platforms are among the first digital business success stories in Sudan. Mobile applications providing food delivery services have also become quite popular recently.  More such services are expected to enter the market especially now that Sudan has been lifted from the SST list, which will give businesses easier access to digital tools and increase competition by enabling targeted ads. Moreover, the impact of globalization and the rise of digital business is inspiring young entrepreneurs to innovate and explore what is trending globally to be tested, adapted and implemented in Sudan.Business software such as Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems are rapidly gaining ground in Sudan. ERP providers have become increasingly important to power entities into the digitized business era. Likewise, ICT-based studies have become more popular following the global trend, however graduates have limited employment routes to pursue: either with telecom operators or the few big private corporations. Unlike other technical and engineering sectors, females in the ICT-based professions have good opportunities to compete on the job market.
  • Hospitality and Food Services: Food services have seen significant growth in recent years. The influx of foreign-owned companies has boosted competition in the sector, many of them with extensive experience and substantial investments. There are opportunities for women in this sector, albeit mostly limited to the day-time jobs for safety reasons. Tourism remains underdeveloped, notwithstanding Sudan’s strategic location and strong potential. Focusing more on tourism could have a direct impact on the growth of the hospitality sector. Among other things, the sector still lacks regulatory standards of food safety and hygiene, which is an area that requires training, education and policy changes.

2. Agriculture: Agriculture holds great potential for economic growth and employment in Sudan. A large share of the rural poor are engaged in agriculture, either in farming or livestock raising. The potential for productivity gains is substantial given Sudan’s level of agricultural productivity today. However, this will require that smallholder farmers have access to crucial inputs, especially fuel and fertilizer, and an institutional framework that encourages investment.

The number of employment opportunities and roles for females in the agricultural sector varies from one region to another. Growth and optimization of the agricultural sector will add value across the whole supply chain and will provide Sudan with export commodities that may curb inflation and devaluation of SDG against the USD.

3. Manufacturing: The manufacturing sector provides employment opportunities across several industries including food packaging, furniture production, consumer electronics, and home appliances. Females are able to find employment opportunities in more advanced and decent working environments. The growth of the manufacturing sector is linked to local sourcing and local production routes that businesses have had to pursue to overcome the increased costs of imports in a struggling economy. Moreover, the manufacturing sector is linked to the agricultural sector, as businesses add value to products by processing, packaging, and branding raw materials, enabling them to charge a higher price on export markets.

Interested to discuss potential projects for funding? Want to explore an idea? Looking for partners? 

Contact Ahmed Darwish, Sudan Partnership Development Team, through


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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 after the webinar. 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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