How data could help Tanzania’s young informal workers

Tanzania is facing a youth unemployment crisis. The World Bank has reported that around 900,000 young people enter the country’s job market annually, but only 50,000 to 60,000 formal sector jobs are created each year. With more than 66% of the population under 25, this job shortage will keep rising. On the flipside, young people are adapting to their situation and increasingly seeking work and opportunities to make money in the informal sector. A study of young people across seven regions of the country, found that 75% of participants earned their main income through the informal sector with most earning around the poverty line.

What are the government and private sector doing in Tanzania to ensure young people can provide more for themselves and their households? How can they achieve a dividend for growth and development through the country’s young and energetic population?

Although Tanzania’s national poverty reduction strategy emphasises employment for women and young people, as yet there are no specific policies to directly support and protect young informal workers. Instead, Tanzania’s economic development and job creation efforts focus mostly on promoting large-scale infrastructure projects and strengthening the formal private sector. In addition, while services to develop small and medium enterprises are on the rise in Tanzania, most young Tanzanians sit well below the qualifying standards to access the micro-credit and loans they provide.

So what’s data got to do with all of this? As we focus on growth and development, how can open data help us to ensure young people are not being left behind? A key government instrument on the labour market is the Employment & Earnings Survey. However, it focuses heavily on the formal sector and currently does not include analysis of the youth informal sector, nor wage earners in seasonal smallholder agriculture. Of 9,431 businesses it consulted in 2012, less than 1% of its sample came from the 15-24 age group according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

Over the last year, Restless Development has been working with grassroots networks of young people – dubbed ‘Kijana Wajibika’ (Youth Lets be Responsible!) – across fourteen regions of the country to ensure their voices are heard in the constitutional review process, and to create spaces for dialogue between young people and their leaders. A major theme coming out in the project’s participatory learning is that young people’s major concern for the future is their livelihoods, and their government’s accountability to provide a better environment to help this grow. The government has a key role in regulating access to land, business development services, and similar. I was talking to a young entrepreneur in our network a few weeks ago, and he shared some of the challenges with me: “To register my business in Mbeya, I need to travel to Dar to get the paperwork done. The registration costs are really high. After that, I’m faced with government audits for a business ten times my size. For those few of us who understand the rules, we just don’t bother to imagine growing and prefer to stay small.”

We at the youth-led development agency Restless Development want Tanzania’s national and local policies and actions on economic development to consider the informal economy and meet young people’s needs. In participatory research, young people in Tanzania have identified the trend of their increased movement into the informal economy as one of their greatest development challenges. That’s why we have chosen to focus on Tanzania in the first phase of the Big Idea, a new programme to support youth-led, data-intensive accountability. The programme is listed as one of the Voluntary Initiatives of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation, driving on-going efforts to meet the Busan commitments on effective development co-operation and move into new areas such as open data for development, enhanced accountability and youth as partners for development.

In developing the Big Idea, we analysed why many well-intentioned projects hoping to unlock accountability through better data fall short of expectations. We believe this is partly because too little attention has been paid to ensuring that citizens and their organisations have the capacity and confidence to work with data and turn it into evidence for advocacy. We also believe that accountability is fundamentally about growing the relationships between citizens and governments, and expanding not only the space for participation, but growing the capacities and comfort levels of all parties involved to work together.

To get to that point, our district-level informal youth-led groups aim to work with national partners to reach around 2,000 young people. With training and mentoring, they will develop key questions of enquiry, pull together official data on young informal workers in Tanzania, and gather new data through community consultations. By bringing the two evidence bases together, they will build a clearer picture of the conditions for and priorities of young informal workers in Tanzania. Participants will then carry these messages into policy dialogues that will deepen their relationship with decision makers, focusing on areas where consensus can be expanded. From our experience in Tanzanian communities since 1998, we expect to see many young people creating their own community solutions to the challenges they find in collaboration with their community leaders and local governments.

The Big Idea programme is at an early stage, and we know that Tanzania is not alone in facing problems of youth unemployment and a growing informal sector. The World Bank’s 2014 report, Youth Employment in Sub-Saharan Africa, states that ‘informal is normal’, and a new study by International Labour Organisation on Labour Market Transitions of Young Women and Men in the United Republic of Tanzania, found youth informal employment in Tanzania to be at 78%. As well as Tanzania, we are also testing our Big Idea programme with youth-led, data-intensive accountability projects in Ghana and Nepal. We are also looking ahead to the Sustainable Development Goals to be decided upon late 2015, advocating that they should include a distinct goal on governance, which should support young people’s participation in governance at a national and global level.

In Tanzania, Ghana and Nepal, we hope to develop and test a model that could have potential wider replication in many other contexts where youth exclusion and youth poverty are barriers to development. We’ll be documenting and sharing our learning, and hoping to inspire others Please follow our progress on the Big Idea webpage as we go along, and get in touch if you want to know more about our work in Tanzania.

RestlessDevAuthorDilhani Wijeyesekera served as Restless Development’s Country Director in Tanzania from February 2011 to December 2014. She is now a Global Director at Restless Development.

Youth Census in Nepal Provides Data for Development

In 2011 the Nepal Central Bureau of Statistics conducted a national census and published the Population and Housing Census. The census provides great insights on Nepal population. However it does not include youth disaggregated data. In December 2014, the Ministry of Youth and Sports (MoYS), CBS, UNFPA and Restless Development worked together to release a report that focuses on facts and figures about youth in Nepal. The report is called Nepali Youth in Figures and analysed the data available in the Population and Housing Census providing youth–disaggregated figures by two age groups: 16-25 and 26-40. As part of the Big Idea Programme, which aims at equipping young people with the skills to analyse and use data to implement accountability initiatives, Restless Development’s produced range youth-friendly data visualisations.

The full report can be accessed here.

Korean social enterprises go global

Social enterprises – businesses that prioritise human and environmental benefits equally to profits – are effective vehicles to achieve development goals as their market-based approaches bring sustainability and scalability that are essential to create long-term impact.

South Korea’s social enterprise ecosystem has grown rapidly in recent years. Following the country’s new Social Enterprise Promotion Act of 2007, we now see many Korean social ventures creating impact in various ways, with many aiming to achieve development goals while conducting business activities in developing countries.

Koreans’ interest in bottom-up approaches to development is closely linked to our country’s own unique development experience via the ‘New Village Movement’ of the 1970s. This was a pan-national movement focused on rural development. The central government provided equal amounts of cement to each community, encouraging communities to initiate development projects of their choice. Those that successfully accomplished projects through their own residents’ efforts and investment were rewarded with more resources for cooperative work. The programme is widely considered to have contributed to the development and modernisation of Korean society as a whole. Many Koreans feel proud of the development they achieved in such a short time frame and are willing to spread this spirit and experience to neighboring countries.

This bottom-up approach can tie in with the growing interest in social enterprises from both the public and private sectors. If both sectors want to engage with each other, can there be a mutually beneficial mechanism that reflects the nature of each sector? This is the beauty of social enterprises and social ventures, which act as vehicles for public-private partnerships. In this context, both Korea’s public and private sectors are increasingly seeking opportunities to support social enterprises to accomplish their respective goals.

Inclusive development partnerships are a core principle of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation launched at the 2011 High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Busan, Korea. This way of cooperating poses interesting challenges to traditional development players such as governments and civil society organisations in cooperating with other development actors, including the private sector. How can the private sector be engaged in development activities? And how can the quality of public-private partnerships be measured?

From the private sector perspective, developing countries have increasingly been recognised as a new market. The four billion people living on less than $2 a day, those at the bottom of the pyramid (BOP) , have been perceived as a market in which businesses can earn profits through innovations in technology, business models, and managing procedures.

Along with this motivation, many Korean companies are also under strong pressure from their communities and society to support development impact, including by designing Corporate Social Responsibility or Creating Shared Value strategies. MYSC, Korea’s first social innovation-focused consulting firm, advises its private sector clients to invest in social enterprises as part of these strategies, and we look forward to seeing more trial cases in the near future. Among Korean conglomerates, Hyundai has active global Creating Shared Values programs; it established automobile technical high schools in Ghana, Indonesia, and Cambodia in partnership with the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) to create stable jobs for local youth.

socialEnt-KoreaLast October, KOICA collaborated with the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency to launch an incubator programme for Korean social entrepreneurs. MYSC is now training six teams sent to Cambodia and Vietnam to develop their business models.

This programme is symbolic of KOICA’s use of Official Development Assistance to leverage business activities contributing to development and is promoting social businesses such as a cooperative to produce construction materials from urban waste and a K-pop performance team composed of local unemployed youth.

Along with these businesses, social enterprises in Cambodia and Vietnam are supporting the countries’ development goals, such as increasing employment and protecting the environment while carrying out urban development.

The Korea Social Enterprise Promotion Agency has also added a global section to its annual social entrepreneurship incubator programme to support entrepreneurs wishing to launch their social enterprises in developing countries.

Through the Korea Development Bank’s Pioneer Village The Nanum (Sharing) programme MYSC trained ten teams of entrepreneurs to launch social businesses in Asian and African developing countries in 2013. Using MYSC’s ‘design thinking’ approach, the teams conducted in-depth field research in the respective countries to develop their businesses based on the actual needs of their target groups. Several of the teams are now running sucessful business, including ‘Tella’ which employs Ugandans to provide remote text-based English tutoring services to Korean customers. This fills a need in the Korean English education market while creating jobs that pay fair wages for well-educated jobless people in Uganda, which faces a high rate of unemployment for young adults.

Another Project, ‘Soul of Africa’ aims to support Kenyan and Tanzanian artists by protecting their intellectual property rights and purchasing their artworks to be sold at SoA’s gallery in Seoul at fair prices.

By promoting the successes and lessons learned via multi-stakeholder partnerships on the ground we hope that Korean social enterprises can help to inform how the private sector can play a key role in more effective development co-operation.


1411369782116.9.29-1Jeong Tae Kim is the CEO and President of MYSC and Executive Director of Social Enterprise Network (SEN). He has worked as Communications and Outreach Officer at the United Nations Project Office on Governance.