Call for Solutions

Challenge Fund for Youth Employment

Relevent Country: Kenya

Challenge Fund for Youth Employment (CFYE) is seeking innovative solutions from private sector employers (e.g., manufacturing, service industries) that will address the youth employment challenge by creating, matching, and improving jobs for youth, with a particular focus on counties outside of Nairobi.

CFYE’s Round 2 of Call for Solutions in Kenya will give priority to partnerships that address county-based development through expansion of job opportunities for youth at scale.

In particular, CFYE is seeking:

  • Partnership/Consortium building between private sector employers and other actors, who will collaborate on solutions to impact youth employment
  • County-based approaches: Priority will be given to projects impacting jobs outside Nairobi County. Projects in Nairobi are also eligible to apply.
  • Systemic solutions: Priority will be given to innovative models that aim to address systemic bottlenecks, positively impacting the ecosystem as a whole.

Round 2 will build on the priority sectors identified in the previous round and add the booming Creative sector.

The Challenge

Kenya has a large population of job seekers that grows every day. Today, more than 35% of Kenya’s youth population (17 million) is unemployed or underemployed. For young women, this figure can even reach 50%. There are not enough jobs available to decrease the current volume of unemployed young Kenyans or even for all young people entering the labour market.

After Kenya’s devolved governance structure in 2013, counties continue to battle capacity and administrative challenges in order to boost economic growth and job creation. There are now growing partnerships between various actors to support local innovations.


Digital Business Development Services

  • Digital business development services using technology to create new value in business models, customer experiences, and the internal capabilities that support its core operations, has high potential to impact jobs at scale. This window covers e-commerce as well as traditional brick-and-mortar players that are transforming their businesses with digital technologies. There is also good potential for providing opportunities for women, as the work often enables remote work and flexibility in timings. Moreover, as per CFYE’s scoping research, digitally-enabled jobs align strongly with youth aspirations.

Scaling up Green Jobs

  • Green jobs refer to employment opportunities in businesses that have a direct, positive impact on the environment, such as those involving renewable energy, energy efficiency or nature conservation. Projects in this window would impact jobs in environmentally & socially sustainable activities in agriculture, agribusiness, waste management & recycling industries. Additionally, CFYE is interested in supporting manufacturing companies transitioning to low-carbon models such as in the construction and transport sectors.

Creative Sector

  • Kenya’s vibrant creative sector shows tremendous potential for providing income generation opportunities for youth. Sub-sectors such as crafts, fashion design, film, music, writing, visual art are examples of the vibrant talent brimming in Kenya, yet not seriously pursued as a career path by youth. Entrepreneurs within the creative sector are primarily informal. They typically lack business skills, and have little incentive or know-how to formalize their operations. CFYE is looking for innovative solutions to support entrepreneurship development, improve existing jobs, and create or match employment opportunities at scale in this sector.

Funding Information

 The minimum CFYE co-investment is € 200.000.

Eligibility Criteria

  • Principles: Should be able to adhere to CFYE’s guiding principles & priorities.
  • Exclusion Criteria: The project and organizations involved in delivering the project must pass the FMO exclusion criteria.
  • Private-Sector Driven: CFYE is seeking applications from private sector employers. NGOs and business associations are welcome to apply, but they must partner with at least one private sector employer who will create, match, and/or improve jobs for youth. CFYE especially welcomes applications from consortiums.
  • Local Presence: The lead organization or at least one consortium partner must have local operating presence in the country.
  • Sector Focus: Priority will be given to agri-business, manufacturing companies, the creative sector, and digitally-enabled businesses. Other sectors are also eligible to apply.
  • Regional Focus: While priority will be given to projects impacting jobs outside Nairobi county, projects in Nairobi are also eligible to apply.
  • Total Targets: Proposed project must create, match or improve at least 500 jobs for young men and women.
  • Gender Targets: Of the total youth employment created, matched, or improved, at least 50% of jobs should be for women.​
  • Employment Type: Jobs must be decent. Full-time, permanent jobs preferred. Part-time jobs will be considered.
  • Leverage & CFYE Contribution: The applicant’s co-investment must be at least equal to the contribution requested by CFYE. The minimum CFYE co-investment is € 200.000. Sources of co-funding have to be approved based on the guidance provided​​.
  • Youth: The jobs created, matched, or improved would be for youth aged 18-35 years.
  • Project Duration: The project duration must be a maximum of two years.