Meshwary celebrates preparing 45,000 for the job market

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By Safaa Abdoun

CAIRO: After her graduation, Hoda Mohamed Youssef spent months looking for a job but could not find a suitable opportunity. It was then that she learned of Meshwary (My Journey), a social and economic empowerment project, which works on youth aged 13 to 24 to increase their knowledge, skills and experience and provide them with the tools to make strategic career choices.

“I’ve joined entrepreneurship workshops and learned the necessary skills to launch a private business, such as doing a feasibility study and market research,” said Youssef, holder of a Bachelor of Arts. “I’ve studied the market, saw a gap, and worked to fill it,” she added.

Now Youssef is a proud owner of a flourishing business producing Sudanese shawls, and she is one of 45,000 young people who have benefited from Meshwary since its launch in 2008 and until its conclusion today.

Meshwary, a partnership between Barclays Bank, UNICEF and the Youth Association for Population and Development (YAPD), spans 10 provinces , including Cairo, Alexandria, Sohag, Daqahlia, Assuit, Aswan, Ismalia, Sharqiya and Menoufiya.
Youssef is not alone. Over 83 percent of Egyptians aged between 15 and 29 are unemployed, the majority of which have a secondary school certificate or university degree, according to Philippe Duamelle, UNICEF representative in Egypt.

For three years, Meshwary has worked on building the skills of young people to make them ready to enter the workforce or create their own jobs and enterprises with workshops and trainings on creative thinking, problem solving and communication skills.

“The success [of Meshwary is that it] helped [them] realize their own potential and know the opportunity to realize this potential,” said Duamelle.

“You have to believe that you’ll make it happen yourself,” he added.

One of the key strategies of the project is the peer support system, whereby participants are asked to teach the skills they have acquired to other young people. This gave Mohamed Rashed from Alexandria the idea to start his own training and consultancy agency. “I have attended the level one training with Meshwary and announced it on Facebook only to find tons of people asking to train them.”

“I repeated this with every new level I attended. I was determined to succeed and make others succeed with me,” he said.

“These initiatives and small businesses will pave the way for the development of Egypt,” said Chairman of YAPD Hisham El Rouby.

Meshawry is part of a global partnership between Barclays Bank and UNICEF, in which $10 million were provided for development projects in 13 countries. Egypt is one of the flagship countries with $1.3 million allocated.

“[Meshawary] worked on [teaching] employability, like skills and entrepreneurial skills among others in order for the young people to enter and ensure their place in the Egyptian workforce,” said Edward Marks, Barclays Egypt’s interim managing director.

Marks ended his note to the young participants, saying, “Your ‘meshwar’ [journey] has not ended; it just started. You are now equipped with tools that will support you in your journey. I urge you to make use of the knowledge and experience you have gained and to share it with other young people who are eager to learn.”


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