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Young entreprenuers represent Jordan at economic summit

By Camille Dupire - Oct 07,2018 - Last updated at Oct 07,2018

AMMAN — Finding ways to adapt to the ever-evolving job market and increasing work opportunities for young professionals were two of the main pillars of the recently concluded Global Youth Economic Opportunities Summit (GYEOS) in New York,  in which Jordan was represented by two young entrepreneurs and the Mercy Corps Jordan team. 

An annual event which brings together over 500 youth and economic development stakeholders, the GYEOS aims to foster networking, exchange and collaboration, with the aim of expanding youth social and economic inclusion across the globe, according to the GYEOS website.

Chosen as the only Jordanian representative, the Mercy Corps team presented its innovative youth employment programme, Youth Impact Labs (YIL), which was established in 2017 with the support of Google.org

“Being picked out of so many projects implemented worldwide is a great recognition of our programme and its innovative approach to tackle youth unemployment in developing countries,” said Khaleel Najjar, programme manager at Mercy Corps Jordan.

The YIL programme seeks to identify and stimulate creative, technology-oriented solutions to Jordan’s youth unemployment challenge, which stood at 39.8 per cent in 2017, according to the International Labour Organisation’s latest data.

“Being a startup in Jordan is like climbing a very steep hill, full of pitfalls,” Najjar told The Jordan Times on Sunday, noting that the YIL facilitates the partnership between incubators, major stakeholders and relevant entities, to help entrepreneurs overcome the barriers of networking, security and funding, among others.

Invited to introduce their programme’s methodology to donors, policymakers, implementers, youth leaders and educators from around the world, Mercy Corps Jordan’s Economic Pillar Director Philip Grenier and Najjar were accompanied by two young Jordanian entrepreneurs who benefitted from the YIL.

One of them, Romouz Sadeq, 33, founded “Mrayti”, a home delivery beauty services startup that employs over 20 female stylists who can make between JD200 to JD2,000 monthly.

“I had the chance to present my success story with Mrayti to an international audience and discuss all the challenges facing entrepreneurs trying to solve unemployment issues in developing countries,” Sadeq told The Jordan Times on Sunday, stressing that “I encouraged NGOs, startups and legislators to have a productive dialogue towards making gig economy a real tool of economic empowerment to youth and women”.

The young entrepreneur deplored the “grey area”, startups like hers still lie in, as “nobody really knows what category we fall into in terms of regulation” and urged stakeholders to partner to establish a clear framework for new businesses like Mrayti.

“In the second panel, I also got the chance to showcase the stories of women working with Mrayti and the impact that the gig economy has had on their lives. By later answering questions from the crowd, I was able to provide them with insight into what it takes to recreate those success stories in their own countries,” the startup founder added.

“Taking part in such a leading event is extremely useful in terms of networking, connections and self-evaluation,” Najjar explained, pointing out that, for the Mercy Corps team, “it was a great opportunity to evaluate and benchmark our own programme and get ideas to further improve our project.”

“It is also incredibly enriching when it comes to networking as you get to reach donors and policymakers who can help you expand your programme’s impact,” he continued, voicing hope to see more sponsorships happen for young entrepreneurs following the “educated feedback” provided at the summit. 

Held under the theme “Generation 2030: Learning & Earning in a Changing World of Work”, the 2018 GYEO Summit focused on the future of work by covering topics such as the growing demand for digital and behavioural skills and holistic programming; emerging industries for employment (including technology, healthcare and green jobs); self-employment in the growing gig economy and youth-led social impact entrepreneurship, among many other topics, the summit’s website read.  

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