Young people make up the largest part of Jordan’s fast growing population. That’s why, in 2018, the Abt-led USAID Jordan Communication, Advocacy, and Policy (JCAP) project created the Shabab Al Fursa (Youth of the Dividend) program. Developed in collaboration with Jordan’s Higher Population Council, Shabab Al Fursa is the first of its kind: a government program empowering youth aged 18-29 to advocate for population issues linked to family welfare. With JCAP’s technical and logistical support, several of the young leaders designed entrepreneurial initiatives focused on women's empowerment, economic development and the environment. Additionally, 22 youth facilitators conducted 57 informational sessions promoting the benefits of small family sizes using JCAP’s Recreation, Accommodation, Food, Fitness, Aspirations, Health, Income, and Education (RAFFAHEE) gaming tool. Youth facilitators reached almost 1,700 youth in nine governorates covering north, middle and south of Jordan.
On February 12, 2019, through the patronage of His Royal Highness Crown Prince Hussein bin Abdullah II, JCAP organized a ceremony to recognize these efforts. The Minister of Planning and International Cooperation, representing His Royal Highness; the Secretary General of the Higher Population Council; and the USAID-Jordan Acting Mission Director handed plaques and certificates to these entrepreneurs for their community initiatives. The ceremony was attended by government officials, Jordan’s Director of Vocational Training and leaders of youth organizations.
Out of 19 proposals, five were recognized as “winning community initiatives”:
- Without Soil: Driven by their passion for gardening and farming, two agricultural engineers founded “Without Soil.” The co-ed duo produces hydroponic growth kits. They sell the kits to economically vulnerable women and youth, train them on using the materials and help them sell their crops.
- Terhal Team: An ambitious young male formed the Terhal team, a group of young guides who promote adventure tourism in Ma’an Governorate. Residing in Basta village, a pre-historic archaeological site in Ma’an, the team will lead tourists on a trail linking their village to the Jordan Hiking Trail. Visitors will be able to admire Basta’s natural landscape and archaeological treasures, meet locals and enjoy a local homemade meal. Terhal Team hopes an influx of tourists will help create jobs for Basta youth.
- Tatkeesh Team: Talented young film directors, producers and actors are using their artistic skills to shed lights on social issues concerning youth through comic online sketches. The troupe tackles the impact of population growth on economic development, entrepreneurship and women’s empowerment. The team will post their skits on different social media platforms with the aim of increasing awareness about Jordan’s demographic dividend and fostering positive behaviors among their peers.
- Smart Trash: A program graduate invented Smart Trash, the first bin to automatically sorts glass, metal and plastic in an eco-friendly way. The young entrepreneur is currently piloting his project at a private university and implementing an awareness campaign to encourage university students to recycle materials.
- Recycle It, Don’t Throw It: Another pair of graduates took their love for the environment to the next level and founded “Recycle It. Don’t Throw It” initiative, which trains youth and housewives to create household ornaments from cardboard and glass waste. The recycled products are then sold in local markets. The goal of this initiative is twofold: increase environmental awareness amongst their community and provide youth and housewives with a modest income.
JCAP provided logistical support to these initiatives, and the organizers received business training to help them finalize their proposals.