Empowering Farmers through Knowledge

Icipe and Mastercard Foundation Join Forces in $79.96 Million Initiative to Empower Ethiopian Youth through Beekeeping

In a visionary collaboration aimed at transforming the lives of 1 million unemployed Ethiopian young people, the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe) and the Mastercard Foundation have inked a groundbreaking five-year deal. Aptly named the Mass Youth Employment in Apiculture Programme (MaYEA) in Ethiopia, this initiative seeks to revolutionize the apiculture sector, providing sustainable employment opportunities while prioritizing vulnerable youth, particularly women, and individuals with disabilities or refugee status.

A Multi-Million Dollar Commitment to Youth Empowerment

The Mastercard Foundation has committed an impressive USD 79.96 million to drive the MaYEA program, with USD 9.3 million designated for icipe to spearhead the program’s implementation. This substantial investment underscores the commitment to fostering economic growth, gender inclusivity, and social empowerment in Ethiopia.

Building on Success: MaYEA’s Ambitious Goals

Leveraging the triumphs of past endeavors, MaYEA builds upon the success of the Young Entrepreneurs in Silk and Honey project (YESH) and the More Young Entrepreneurs in Silk and Honey project (MOYESH). These initiatives, executed over the past eight years, have established a formidable model for integrated beekeeping, creating over 11,877 youth-led beekeeping enterprises and 1,117 youth-led sericulture enterprises. The impact has been transformative, generating direct jobs for approximately 144,082 young people, with a significant focus on empowering women.

Inclusive Employment Opportunities: MaYEA’s Unique Approach

MaYEA sets an ambitious target, allocating 80% of its employment opportunities to vulnerable rural and peri-urban young women. An additional 10% is dedicated to individuals with disabilities and refugees, ensuring inclusivity and diversity in the workforce. This socially conscious strategy aligns with national and regional developmental agendas and fosters a reciprocal relationship with government partners.

Sustainable Enterprise Development and Environmental Regeneration

The program strategically addresses systemic challenges in the apiculture value chain and incorporates innovative approaches to encourage more women to thrive in the historically male-dominated field of beekeeping. MaYEA’s collaboration with local governments, allocating land to youth enterprises, not only safeguards natural resources but also promotes agribusiness diversification and modern beekeeping technologies.

Empowering Through Knowledge and Skills

A unique training format underpins MaYEA, promoting knowledge and social capital. Youth participants undergo comprehensive training in technical skills such as honey bee colony multiplication, queen bee rearing, honey and beeswax production, and postharvest product handling. Entrepreneurial skills development equips participants with the tools needed to own and run a successful beekeeping enterprise.

International Market Presence and Economic Growth

Building on the success of YESH and MOYESH, MaYEA aims to position Ethiopian honey brands in international markets. The program facilitates business-to-business linkages, digital marketing technologies, and alliances with financial institutions to ensure sustainable growth. Through contract farming and out-grower business schemes, private sector partners contribute to the diversification and expansion of youth-led enterprises.

A Vision for the Future

Samuel Yalew Adela, Mastercard Foundation Country Director for Ethiopia, envisions MaYEA as a catalyst for the next generation of young beekeepers, particularly women, engaging in high-quality, high-volume honey production. The program’s holistic approach aims to overcome key bottlenecks affecting the apiculture sector, enabling over a million young people, including 800,000 young women, to access dignified and fulfilling work.

In conclusion, the icipe and Mastercard Foundation’s MaYEA program not only signifies a substantial financial commitment but also a commitment to nurturing sustainable livelihoods, gender equality, and economic prosperity for Ethiopian youth. As the buzz of bees becomes synonymous with empowerment, Ethiopia is poised to emerge as a global leader in apiculture, contributing to a sweeter and more prosperous future for its young population.

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