Ethiopia’s Ministry of Labor and Skills and First Consult to Create More Work Opportunities for Young People in Ethiopia

Addis Ababa — Today, the Ministry of Labor and Skills (MoLS) of Ethiopia signed a partnership agreement with First Consult (FC) to create work opportunities for young people through Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs). The project will run from 2022 until 2024.

The agreement is facilitated through the BRIDGES Programme, which is part of the Mastercard Foundation’s Young Africa Works strategy in Ethiopia and is being implemented in partnership with First Consult.

Annually, two million young people join the labor market in Ethiopia. This is in addition to the backlog of unemployed young people from previous years.  The BRIDGES programme focuses on employment linkage, enterprise development, increasing enterprise competitiveness, and access to finance to contribute to the national effort of creating dignified and fulfilling work for young people in Ethiopia.

The partnership signed today between the Ministry of Labor and Skills and First Consult will lead to strategic and grassroots-level employment initiatives throughout the country mainly focusing on:

  • Technical assistance for unlocking youth- and MSME-friendly finance through the establishment of the national credit guarantee body;
  • Demand-driven training for returnees and supporting them in organizing and establishing MSMEs;
  • Reimagining the roles of Technical Vocational and Educational Trainings (TVETs) and One-Stop Service Centers (OSSC) to maximize their utilization and job-creation potential.  The aim is to transform them into an idea-nurturing and enabling platform to produce an industrious and disciplined workforce in Ethiopia through a Public and Private Partnership (PPP) approach;
  • Implementing digital workforce development and outsourcing programs to support the creation of work opportunities for young people;
  • Demand-driven and PPP-based Business Development Services for aspiring young entrepreneurs to establish their own businesses and support existing MSMEs to grow and create more jobs; and
  • Building awareness of Awaqi: a youth-centered digital mindset and soft skills training platform, which will also serve as a guidance and coaching hub.

In addition, the BRIDGES programme will be working closely with and supporting the Ministry in delivering its objectives by strengthening its capacity.

Alongside this partnership, BRIDGES has officially launched Awaqi, an online resource centre for job-seeking and working young people as well as entrepreneurs.  Awaqi was established in 2021 as a digital solution to business incubation and employability skills for young people in Ethiopia. It takes advantage of the maximum reach and popularity of digital media among young people. By producing and sharing culturally relevant and context-responsive content, Awaqi has already earned a large following on social media of over 250,000 across various platforms. Through Awaqi, approximately 30,000 young people will have access to dignified and fulfilling jobs. The platform will be co-launched and promoted through youth centres and youth associations across the country.

Awaqi can be accessed on social media on Facebook, Telegram, and Instagram, as well as on its soon-to-be-launched website, where it will host short inspirational and motivational videos, training materials, and internships, as well as training and job opportunities for young people. It also includes resources to guide and coach young entrepreneurs to create and grow micro and small enterprises (MSEs).

“We are happy to see the Awaqi digital platform of First Consult and we support their efforts to design and present youth-friendly content. Considering the track record of First Consult and the areas where our Ministry needs the collaboration of development partners, we are signing this memorandum of understanding with them.” Her Excellency Muferihat Kamil, Minister, FDRE Ministry of Labor and Skills

“I see strong potential in our programmatic collaboration with the Ministry of Labor and Skills that will deliver on the government’s bold reform agenda to serve hundreds of thousands of young people with better access to opportunities. Engaging youth through digital platforms like Awaqi allows us to connect and engage faster, more deeply and to reach wider communities. We’re proud to jointly launch this platform today and I credit the young, energetic, and creative minds behind the project for achieving this milestone!” noted Nebil Ahmed Kellow, Managing Director, First Consult.

“The partnership between the Ministry of Labor and Skills and First Consult is a step towards strengthening public-private partnerships. We believe it is a critical step in laying the groundwork for other possible collaborations with the private sector to create access to even more job opportunities for young people in Ethiopia. We are excited about the role that this new partnership will play in unlocking employment opportunities,” said Samuel Yalew Adela, Country Head, Ethiopia, at the Mastercard Foundation.

About Ministry of Labor and Skills

The F.D.R.E. Ministry of Labor and Skills under its current structure, is an institution established in 2018 under Council of Ministers Registration number 435/2011 and is accountable to the Prime Minister of F.D.R.E. The Ministry is responsible for administering, collaborating, and overseeing job creation agendas throughout all sectors. To ensure the creation of sustainable jobs, the Ministry plans on facilitating and assisting the creation of millions of jobs by 2030. For more information. Please visit

About the Mastercard Foundation

The Mastercard Foundation works with visionary organizations to enable young people in Africa and in Indigenous communities in Canada to access dignified and fulfilling work. It is one of the largest private foundations in the world with a mission to advance learning and promote financial inclusion to create an inclusive and equitable world. The Foundation was created by Mastercard in 2006 as an independent organization with its own Board of Directors and management. For more information on the Foundation, please visit:

About First Consult

First Consult is a leading development consulting organization specializing in economic development in Ethiopia. With a focus on private sector, financial sector and human capital development since 2005, First Consult has built and worked in over 500 partnerships that span private sector, government and development actors. First Consult strives to solve the most critical development challenges of our time by supporting the building of strong local institutions and the implementation of national strategies. The core focus on youth development and women’s economic empowerment is central to the mission of First Consult, which is to realize an inclusive and sustainable development that benefits all. For more information about First Consult, please visit:

About the BRIDGES Programme

The BRIDGES Programme, a five-year initiative, aims to create employment opportunities for young women and men by unlocking the job creation potential of industrial parks (IPs), other large enterprises, and their surrounding ecosystem including micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs). Through the programme, BRIDGES works to support the creation of close to 600,000 jobs for young people (80% women) and 15,000 micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs). BRIDGES works to capitalize on and scale up its previous experiences and key learnings within the industrial sector toward creating direct employment linkages, as well as establishing sustainable market linkages between large enterprises and MSMEs. The BRIDGES Programme is comprised of four focus areas: Employment Linkage, Enterprise Development, Enterprise Competitiveness, and Access to Finance.

Follow the BRIDGES Programme on:|


Ministry of Labor and Skills
Abebe Alemu, Public Relations and Communications Executive

First Consult

Linda Yohannes, Strategic Communications Lead
Telephone: +251 114 401 473

Mastercard Foundation

Simret Yasabu, Lead, Program Communications
Telephone: +251 988 80 57 66


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