Promoting Youth and SME Development

work in progress

Work in progress is gender sensitive and inclusive: the programme aims to have 50% of the actively engaged youths be women. For the other 50% the programme focuses on the specific needs and participation of young men.

Work in Progress! (WiP!) is financed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of The Netherlands as part of the LEAD (Local Employment in Africa for Development) programme. The goal of WiP! is to improve the economic prospects of young people in Nigeria, Egypt and Somalia by building their skills to find a job and stimulating entrepreneurship.

Youth are trained in soft and technical skills and are connected to employers through job fairs and internships. Work in Progress! accelerates startups led by young entrepreneurs and provides business development services to small and medium enterprises. We connect them to angel and impact investors to accelerate their growth and hire youth. Our research and close cooperation with youth, startups and SMEs, provide us with insights into the challenges they are facing. We use their feedback as a basis for our advocacy towards governments and the private sector. Young people have a strong role in the project – as participants in the interventions as well as partners in planning and monitoring.

The Work in Progress! Alliance is made up of four organizations –  Venture Capital for Africa, Butterfly Works, IOM and Oxfam.


Work in Progress! has set to achieve the following outcomes:

  1. More young men and women have found paid jobs or are running their own enterprises.
  2. Local SMEs see business grow resulting in newly created positions for youth.
  3. Improved policies and shifted attitudes that stimulate youth employment and the business environment.


The project uses a holistic approach to tackle youth unemployment. It focuses on both the supply and the demand side of the labour market and on enhancing the enabling environment for youth and SMEs. By 2018, we will have engaged with more than 5000 young men and women, accelerated over 100 startups, connected thousands of startups to knowledge, mentorship and finance, and provided business development support to 100 small and medium enterprises.