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Mercy Corps, African Executive Leaders Solutions Partner to Offer Solutions for Refugees and Youth Unemployment

Mercy Corps Country Director, Edward Simiyu (left) and Patrick Ngolobe, CEO African Executive Leaders Solutions (AELS) shake hands after the launch of the ICHUZZ2WORK project.

Global Organization Mercy Corps has today launched a partnership with African Executive Leaders Solutions (AELS), a thought leadership solutions organization, to create work opportunities for refugees and youth in informal settlements (slums) in Makindye and Kawempe divisions in Kampala.

AELS will work closely with the Directorate of Industrial Training (DIT) to bridge the skills gaps among the refugees and host communities in the two divisions through modular assessments that lead to issuance of worker’s passes and other forms of accreditation that can give employers the confidence to demand and pay for their skills/service. T

he platform will enable target audiences to identify their unique strengths, improve their skills and competencies to secure meaningful learning and earning opportunities focusing on work-based learning that is not limited to internship, trainee opportunities and apprenticeships. The pilot program – set to run for five months – will enable them to access job opportunities through a public platform Ichuzz2work, that connects skilled workers from the informal sector with job opportunities.

Uganda is now the second-largest refugee-hosting country on the planet, after Lebanon. Almost 1.4 million refugees have fled their home countries to seek refuge in Uganda from countries like South Sudan , Congo, Ethiopia, Somalia. The refugee population makes up about 3.6% of Uganda’s total population, however, 64% of the refugees living in Uganda are unemployed, according to a January 2021 report released by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR).      

“This partnership is an exciting opportunity for Mercy Corps as it’s part of our bigger mission to identify and test creative technology-enabled solutions to tackle youth unemployment and accelerate job creation, so every young person in Uganda has the dignified opportunity for purposeful work,” says Edward Simiyu, Mercy Corps Country Director for Uganda.

“We believe one way to address the country’s unemployment crisis is to focus on the potential of digital technology. Online platforms are becoming a new income source for thousands of talented and innovative young people who otherwise would be left on the sidelines.” The online platform bridges the gap between the service workers and their clients who are also the general public, enabling a quick and convenient access of the services.

The clients have an opportunity to make a choice of individuals; their services, as they find them fit for their budgets while creating value for both workers and employers. 

Patrick Ngolobe, CEO AELS said, “the Ichuzz2work platform (a Web and Mobile App) is open to the general public to access a variety of skilled services such as plumbing, electrical wiring, building, tutoring, welding, hairdressing, computer programming, marketing, farm management, among others.”

he added that the Taskers on the platform are accredited by DIT, have been mentored and trained in their specific fields of expertise, and are also trained in interpersonal and customer relations to enhance professionalism as they offer their services to the general public. All accounts created by youths on the platform are verified and approved job alerts are sent out.

The solution has been designed to cater for georeferencing, where ONLY Taskers within a radius of 20KM from the customer posting the task/job get a job/task alert. This is intended to increase turnaround time for service delivery and also reduce the operational costs so as to have competitive pricing for the task/s. There are no Charges either at registration, posting of a job or when the service provider is paid. The customer only pays the Taskers for the job done i.e 100% of the payment. All these have been made possible by the generous partnership with Mercy Corps Uganda.

The ichuzz2work app provides for signing off a digital contract, reporting any breach of contract and indicating when the Taskers are available to do the tasks/jobs. Upon completion of the assignment the customer is able to rate the Taskers on a five star scale.

Taskers with better ratings are always chosen first. We see an average income of US Dollars 30 – 500 for most of the tasks/jobs being done by the Taskers on the platform. Skilled people can now earn from their skills within their communities and customers can now deal with verified service providers from their communities hence improving the household incomes, reducing unemployment and increasing empowerment of the youths and host communities.

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