Sparking youth empowerment from within

Ala’ Wrikat, 29, has always been a solemn believer in the power of youth to drive development and progress. To him, young people hold the keys to a brighter, more prosperous tomorrow.

“This is why it really saddens me to see many young, ambitious, and driven Jordanians out of work. Not only is it detrimental to their finances, health, and wellbeing, but also to that of society at large.”

Jordan, like many developing countries, struggles from high unemployment rates, more prominently among youth and fresh graduates. This is, of course, a huge opportunity cost in terms of untapped growth potential.

In our Idea Bank project, funded by the U.S.-Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI), we foster entrepreneurship and innovation through youth engagement in public-private partnerships. Specifically, we provide a channel for Jordanian ministries to communicate their challenges to young, budding entrepreneurs who, in turn, come up with creative, innovative solutions. 

In doing so, we create new income opportunities for unemployed youth while increasing efficiency, engagement, dialogue, and transparency. At the same time, we empower youth in becoming active, participatory members of society that have a say in the decisions that affect their livelihoods and potential for innovation.

“I stumbled onto the project on social media and was immediately drawn. I then headed to the website to learn more about the challenges and felt eager to have a go at the Ministry of Digital Economy and Entrepreneurship (MoDEE)’s challenge concerning difficulties in marketing and managing their Graduate Internship Program (GIP), where the ministry supports and subsidies private sector companies to train ICT graduates for 12 months.”

“So, I built onBoard to facilitate the connection. The platform covers three fronts: an alumni network database of ICT graduates; a list of open internship opportunities with ICT companies through the GIP; and an e-learning portal with Arabic content, which is otherwise difficult to find. In doing so, Onboard helps in promoting the programme, identifying internship opportunities, bridging the gap between ICT theory and practice, and therefore helping young graduates in landing training opportunities that increase their employability as a result.” 

Ala’ was really happy about the outcome and the chance to give back and help stimulate youth employment in his country. “It feels really fulfilling to be able to contribute to the betterment of my community, knowing that my work will create new opportunities and introduce hope and faith in a better future.”

However, it is not only the outcome he’s proud of but rather the process to get there too. “I really enjoyed unleashing my creative, entrepreneurship potential and strongly urge young, fellow Jordanians to give this route a try. Do not sit and wait for the job opportunity to come but instead try to create your own career. Jordan has fertile ground for entrepreneurial ideas and a supportive enabling environment to facilitate your growth along the way. So, whatever idea you have, get to it and make it count! For you, for your people, and for your country.”