Work for 200.000 young women and men in the Middle East, North Africa, Sahel & West Africa and Horn of Africa

On November 22 Ambassador for Youth, Education and Work Tijmen Rooseboom launched, together with Fund Manager Palladium Europe, the Challenge Fund for Youth Employment (CFYE). The event took place in Diemen, at the head offices of Randstad. Palladium Europe will together with Randstad and development organisation VSO manage the fund.


In the presence of over 150 representatives of private sector, youth organisations and civil society Tijmen Rooseboom explained the background, necessity and urgency of the fund. Jobs are needed. A majority of the world’s youth are living in developing countries. In Africa 10 to 12 million young people enter the workforce annually, while only 3 million formal jobs are created each year. And the highest official youth unemployment rate can meanwhile be found in the MENA region. On the surface, the problem often looks quantitative: there are not enough jobs. If you however scratch the surface, you’ll also find a more qualitative issue: employers often can’t find people with the specific skills-set they require. There is often a gap between the job market and the skills young people have been taught. Involvement of the private sector is key. Companies can benefit from employing young people: they are agile, have digital literacy, are more adaptable; investing in human capital pays off.

“We invite the private sector here, but certainly in our focus regions, to invest in training and education for youth and internships. I generally hope more and more companies move beyond CSR and see that investing in young people developing countries is core business.” 

After the words of Tijmen Rooseboom, Joost Verwilghen of Palladium Europe presented the Challenge Fund for Youth Employment. This new Challenge Fund aims to create prospects, via decent work and income, for 200.000 young women and men in the focus regions. The fund specifically aims to reach 100.000 young women in the focus regions.


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.

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.

For more information, see