Building a better future for young people in Egypt
Big silver trays filled with sticky sweets and glistening pastries line the shelves in the shop where 17-year-old Ramey* works. You can tell from the smile on his face that he loves his profession and is excited about starting his own pastry business soon.
Many young people like Ramey in Egypt leave school at an early age and cannot read or write. Without an education, young people face challenges in finding steady employment and providing for their families.
Save the Children’s Youth in Action project in Egypt creates opportunities for out of school adolescent girls and boys (12-18) to enhance existing assets and build new knowledge and skills to be able to negotiate a better position of value in an existing value chain or agri-business.
The project creates a space for youth to consider their futures based on their own personal goals, family situation, community environment and their desired learning outcomes. The project supports young people in making a decision about their future, through offering a choice of pathway options to try out with support and mentorship from the project.
Ramey has involved in the project project since September 2014 and it has already made a big impact on his life.
“Through the project I learned how to read and write… it’s important to know how to read and write so when I sign a paper I know the content and I’m not exposed to cheating from others. I also learnt how to communicate with others in a positive and respectful way,” he says.
“For me, I prefer to have a business rather than a job because having your own business can be stable and can make more profit”.
“To operate my own business I will buy my own oven and other equipment for the pastry industry. I will rent a place. The total cost to set up the business is EGP 20,000 to 25,000. I have EGP 28,000 saved up from my work. I hope to make between EGP 2,000 and 3,000 a month in profit.
“I wasn’t thinking about starting my own business until I was part of the project. Now my wish for the future is to have my own business. This is how the project has changed my life.”
As part of the project, young people who choose to start their own businesses present their idea in front of a project panel. The panel provides feedback and decides if the idea is feasible.
“I convinced the panel that I had my savings, that I was clever and that I had been making desserts since I was young so I was very good at it,” Ramey explains. “The committee were happy with my idea and very encouraging for me to start my own business. It made me feel more confident to communicate my idea and convince others.”
Once the young person’s idea has been approved, he/she is provided with technical, financial and networking guidance to succeed with his/her business.
Sixteen-year-old Saba* is also participating in the project and feels it has given her important information and skills on how to set up her sewing business in the future. It has also given her more confidence and helped her develop objectives for the future.
“The project will help me to have two weeks of training on the sewing industry to enhance my skills. It will also help me to have a grant to buy a sewing machine,” she says.
“I have learnt some basic knowledge about business management and making a business plan. I learnt that I need to start small and then go bigger with the profits. If there is a deficit, if your business is small you can manage it, but if your business is big it is difficult to manage. I also learned that it is important to know the materials and the equipment you will need for your business, and where to buy products and how to achieve profits”.
“I made some objectives in life and how to overcome challenges and how to achieve my objectives. It’s important to have objectives in life so I can have my own identity, my own work, my own income to help myself and to help my family in the future to have a better life.
“My main objective is to learn how to sew and to have a sewing machine at home to start my own business so I can help my mother and to support the family financially.”
Saba’s mother Kalila has seen a change in her daughter since she started the project and is glad she’s had the opportunity to participate.
“Her level of reading and writing has improved and her communication with her family is much better,” says Kalila.
“I encouraged her to look at the sewing business because it’s safe and she can do it from home. It also gives her an income and she can invest her time in something useful.
“I think she now has clear objectives to do the sewing business and to be professional. I hope for her to be successful in her life… and to start the business.”
Save the Children’s Youth in Action project is funded by the MasterCard Foundation and aims to improve the socio-economic status of approximately 38,500 rural out-of-school youth in five African countries – Burkina Faso, Egypt, Ethiopia, Malawi and Uganda.
*Names changed to protect identities.