Secure Livelihoods

People’s livelihoods are threatened by demographic shifts and economic stresses, from rapid migration from rural areas to urban centers, a growing youth bulge in many regions, and an aging working population, all of which contribute to significant unemployment and underemployment around the world.

The Rockefeller Foundation promotes new approaches to economic, development and management goals to foster more inclusive markets through which prosperity can be more widely and equitably shared. Click below to learn more about Digital Jobs Africa—a nearly $100 million initiative launched in 2013 to catalyze employment opportunities for African youth—and see the breadth of work in the Secure Livelihoods focus area.

 

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Digital Jobs Africa

It’s called the “youth bulge”—by 2050, Africa will have a larger working age population than India and China combined. This will be a challenge if job creation doesn’t keep pace: the economics and social consequences could negatively impact an entire generation. But by leveraging trends like the massive growth of the information communications technology (ICT) sectorand innovation in how stakeholders work togetherThe Rockefeller Foundation sees an opportunity for a better future.

To achieve this impact, in May 2013, The Rockefeller Foundation launched Digital Jobs Africa, a seven-year, $100 million effort to improve a million lives by connecting high-potential youth in Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, and South Africa to sustainable digital employment opportunities and skills training. To reach this ambitious goal, The Rockefeller Foundation is working to bring together a variety of stakeholders and partners, from socially-conscious outsourcing service providers, skills trainers, African and multinational businesses, and governments.

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Service Providers: Digital Divide Data

Lori Silverstein had a successful, 15 year career at a business processing outsourcing (BPO) firm in Kenya. But after becoming curious about why the company where she worked was losing deals to another service provider in Cambodia, she saw the opportunity presented by “impact sourcing”—an arm of the business processing outsourcing field through which companies intentionally hire firms located in low-income or otherwise disenfranchised areas to do work like database management or data transcription.

Lori saw the opportunity to join the growing impact sourcing movement by becoming chief sales officer at Digital Divide Data, a nonprofit organization that provides data processing, advanced analysis, and content services to clients such as Harvard University, Stanford University, and Ancestry.com. With offices across Cambodia, Laos, and Kenya, the organization’s 1,000 workers also receive education subsidies, enabling them to earn an income while developing their professional skills.

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Skills Training Providers: The Impact Sourcing Academy

The growth of the ICT sector in Africa has created a new wave of educational opportunities for young people seeking employment. The Impact Sourcing Academy, launched in Johannesburg, trains unemployed youth to take advantage of jobs available in the growing South African call center industry and business process services sector. As of 2013, 977 unemployed youth have been trained, with 627 already placed among 22 different employers.

 

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Africa-Based Companies and Multinationals

"Impact sourcing" is already becoming a boon to corporations that serve as the primary buyers of outsourcing services. The consulting firm Deloitte used the practice in South Africa to hire previously unemployed workers, discovered a sustainable model for sourcing new talent from disadvantaged backgrounds, and achieved greater diversity and lower costs.

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Government

Governments also have a part to play: For example, The Rockefeller Foundation supported Ghana’s government in its ongoing creation of an ICT “park”—a collection of world-class facilities to attract technology firms, including BPO vendors, in an ongoing effort to create new digital jobs for Ghanaian youth.

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