By some estimates, the Middle East will need to create 100 million jobs in the next decade to maintain current employment levels. In addition to Endeavor, one organization tackling this problem head-on is Education for Employment (EFE). The D.C.-based non-profit was founded on the premise that when young people have satisfying jobs and the hope of building a future, they help lay the foundation for secure and peaceful societies.
“Youth unemployment is a global phenomenon, and MENA is the region that suffers more than any other,” says Shahinaz Ahmed, CEO of EFE-Egypt. “By focusing our energy and resources here, we stand to make the biggest impact.” EFE engages a range of disadvantaged young people through tailored educational programs for numerous sectors, including business, government, education, civic and community development. Upon graduation from the program, participants are placed in jobs with partner organizations.
Currently, two Endeavor-supported firms in Egypt are working with EFE: Azza Fahmy, a high-end jewelry company, and El Matbakh, a full-service lunch caterer. “We decided to participate with EFE programs due to the complicated process of finding, training and mostly keeping the right caliber of employees,” says Endeavor Entrepreneur Hiba Jammal of El Matbakh. “In the Food and Beverage industry in Egypt, this has proven to be the biggest challenge for any establishment. We believed outsourcing this process would result in better outcomes.”
El Matbakh has hired several EFE-trained employees, including 19-year-old Safaa Mohamed. As one of six children in a low-income household, Safaa struggled to find a job after graduating job school; besides lacking basic skills and English proficiency, her religious beliefs (including dress requirements) precluded her from her desired positions in the tourism industry. Now, she is an enthusiastic worker at El Matbakh where she aspires to become a branch manager.
Islam Mohamed, now 24, was led to EFE by a similar path. After attending Mansoura University, Islam joined the military to complete his mandatory service. Finding subsequent employment was a challenge, as employers dismissed him for lack of experience. Turning to the internet for help, he found EFE and immediately applied to the program, which provided him with marketable skills. Islam now works as a Sales Representative for Azza Fahmy, where he enjoys interacting with customers, colleagues and managers.
“EFE Programs and the like are of extreme value for the future of Egypt,” says Hiba. “The general populace has very low education levels and even lower understanding of having to work hard to build a career and reach a higher goal in life. As a small to medium enterprise we prefer to hire staff with low skills or zero skills. It has proven more successful to train them on our Service & Quality Standards rather than get a highly skilled employee and train them from scratch.”
Entrepreneurs’ involvement with EFE is consistent with Endeavor’s mission to create employment opportunities and pave the way for sustainable economic growth. As Endeavor Entrepreneurs have expressed, they are particularly receptive to working with EFE because they themselves have had to overcome obstacles in an untraditional way – thereby identifying with EFE job seekers.
Says Shahinaz of EFE-Egypt, “We are excited about our involvement with Endeavor, which has resulted in placing young people with limited job prospects with growing Egyptian SMEs supported by Endeavor. EFE-Egypt graduates now have hope for a better future, access to social mobility and are empowered with education and jobs. We are eager to strengthen and expand this powerful and impactful relationship.”