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Youth Impact Labs comes to aid of Jordan’s gig workers during pandemic

By Maria Weldali - Dec 14,2020 - Last updated at Dec 14,2020

AMMAN — Youth Impact Labs (YIL), a programme designed and implemented by Mercy Corps, helps Jordan’s gig workers and social entrepreneurs weather pandemic-related challenges, by innovating their employment environment and channeling $19,000 in emergency cash to three “Generation Impact” startups that provide gig workers with income opportunities.

Catalysed by a contribution from, the $5 million programme focused on tackling youth unemployment and accelerating job creation, by linking a systems approach that supports long-lasting change to the labour market ecosystem with an emphasis on identifying and testing creative, technology-enabled solutions that provide increased and improved opportunities, according to a Mercy Corps statement sent to The Jordan Times on Sunday.

Due to the onslaught of the coronavirus pandemic and the lack of safety nets, gig economy workers were specifically affected. Whereas many of the startups supported by YIL also struggled owing to revenue problems and the inaccessibility of financial and business solutions to cover operational costs, the statement added.

In response to these challenges, YIL targeted creative solutions with the aim to aid vulnerable startups and gig workers that have been supported by the programme’s social business incubator “Generation Impact”, in addition to providing technical support for social entrepreneurs to help them adjust to COVID-19 realities, read the statement.

It noted that 90 workers received income offsets after channelling $19,000, helping them meet their basic needs.

The startups included the e-tourism platform ViaVii, Salalem which is an ed-tech firm employing freelancers and Utrac, a freelance delivery platform. All the three startup businesses were chosen due to showing strong recovery potential. 

In Jordan, Mercy Corps developed YIL interventions based on analysis of the main findings of a research conducted during the project’s inception period. Whereas some of the key takeaways of the research included the youth unemployment rate, which stands at 34 per cent and the stagnant economic growth, the statement added.

“The programme sought strong and innovative partners that helped in achieving the key objectives of the programme, the most significant of which involved accelerating job growth for youth in various markets and sectors,” senior adviser at Mercy Corps, Khaleel Najjar, told The Jordan Times over the phone on Monday.

Najjar who is also the programme’s senior manager added that nearly 2,500 persons obtained employment through the programme, noting that “YIL targeted youth, but it did not preclude other groups from benefiting”.

“Generation Impact is Jordan’s first business incubator which was established back in 2003, it provided strategic and support services to the programme’s partners,” Najjar said.

Mercy Corp’s YIL programme collaborated with iPARK, which is the project’s partner that manages the business incubator to launch a fundraising campaign, aiming at sustaining the incubator’s plan, Najjar said. 

By June 2020, YIL had reached 200,000 persons, increasing net income of 8,354 vulnerable individuals by over $4.3 million, in addition to leveraging 26 private sector partnerships that launched 38 new products and services, according to the statement.

The programme focused on three areas: Improving job matching for manual labourers nationally and regionally, supporting the creation of job opportunities within the gig economy through backing and incubating digital gig economy platforms, in addition to enhancing the quality of existing jobs, the statement said.

YIL operated in Jordan and Kenya, the programme’s two strategic regional hubs, serving the Middle East and East Africa, according to the statement.

The programme generates additional income of $2,364,042 for its participants, supported the development of 23 tech innovations and reached 186,126 persons.


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