The International Rescue Committee (IRC) and The MasterCard Foundation today announced Pro-Jeunes, a five-year $8.4 million partnership that will improve the economic well-being of young people in Côte d'Ivoire by providing them with skills training and opportunities for entrepreneurship and employment.

Using an innovative e-learning platform, IRC will deliver life skills, business and entrepreneurship training and tools to 10,000 young Ivorians aged 15-24. Applying a combination of online digital media and traditional classroom methods, Pro-Jeunes will provide young people with access to relevant training content at their own pace. Business startups created with the support of IRC’s entrepreneurship training for youth are expected to impact 40,000 households, grow local economies, and generate 1,600 full-time and casual jobs in high demand sectors such as agriculture, energy and ICTs.

“Livelihoods programs provide people with opportunities to gain skills, knowledge and a path towards future employment,” said Jodi Nelson, Senior Vice-President, Policy and Practice at the IRC. “We are excited to partner with The MasterCard Foundation to make a real impact for young people in Côte d’Ivoire and hope that this program can serve as a model for future partnerships that can bring job creation and skills training for the most vulnerable.”

The IRC’s multifaceted and comprehensive model will assess each young person’s skills, development needs, motivation and opportunities, allowing them to interact with business coaches remotely and face-to-face and providing them with linkages to private sector mentors, community leaders, job opportunities and capital for business creation.

“Digital and online training platforms offer flexibility and choice to young people interested in acquiring in-demand skills, but who, due to various constraints, are unable to attend training in a traditional classroom setting,” said Meredith Lee, Deputy Director, Youth Livelihoods, The MasterCard Foundation. “There is evidence from IRC’s previous work in Côte d'Ivoire that technology can be a great enabler and play a pivotal role in preparing young people for economic opportunities that can change their lives and strengthen their communities.”

Côte d’Ivoire has experienced robust economic growth since the end of the civil war in 2011. However, job opportunities have not matched this pace of growth. Pro-Jeunes will respond directly to this reality by providing young Ivorians with the skills, knowledge and resources they need for employment and entrepreneurship in sectors that have significant need for skilled workers and new businesses to fill market gaps. The program will place a specific focus on expanding opportunities for young women, engaging with them to address barriers and increase their access to jobs.