Introducing the
YouthAtWork Fund

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Tackling Youth Unemployment in Africa

A third of Africa’s 420 million youth (15 – 35 years) are unemployed, while another third can only find vulnerable employment. Every year another 12 million young Africans join the job market. Yet, the continent only creates 3.1 million new jobs per year.

GroFin and the Challenge Fund for Youth Employment (CFYE), managed by Palladium on behalf of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, have co-created the YouthAtWork ([email protected]) Fund to provide 25,000 African youth access to a decent job by investing in small and growing businesses (SGBs).

Anchor Investor:

CFYE has committed EUR 10m to the YouthAtWork Fund and up to EUR1m technical assistance funding.

Find out below how to invest in the [email protected] Fund


  • The [email protected] Fund will provide primarily debt financing to 130 small and growing businesses (SGBs) in sectors with a clear potential to create, improve and match jobs for the youth.
  • Loan sizes will vary between USD $50k and USD 2m, with an average size of around USD 450k.
  • The Fund will invest in businesses employing between 5 and 250 people and showing potential and ambition to grow.
  • It aims to provide 25,000 youth (including 50% women) with decent jobs within 5 years.
  • Its first investments will start in Kenya and Uganda with subsequent expansion into Nigeria, Senegal and Egypt.

The Fund has a blended finance structure with three capital layers:

    • Anchored by a first-loss layer to enable more commercial investors to support investments in the SGB segment in local currency in Africa.
    • Senior equity and debt allow different tenors, liquidity, and risk profiles for impact-oriented investors.

What makes the YouthAtWork Fund unique?

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Triple Impact Challenge

Unique focus on SGBs, youth and gender employment by investing in SGBs, operating in labour intensive sectors in Africa.

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Finance to Meet SGB Needs

Flexible instruments meeting the needs of investees. Focus on self-liquidating debt instruments but also including mezzanine.

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Support to Meet SGB Needs

Important non-financial support: Providing integrated risk mitigating business support and technical assistance targeting SGB viability and deep youth and gender impact practices.

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Catalytic Blended Finance

Significant subordinated capital support: Anchor “first loss” tranche (including a ~USD 12m by the sponsor), offering adequate risk mitigation buffers to mobilise capital across the risk-return-impact spectrum.

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Positioned for Scale

An evergreen structure that enables the Fund to back its investee enterprises in the long-term, facilitates recycling of capital to build scale and optimise long-term impact.

Invest in the YouthAtWork Fund

Create a Better Future for our Youth in Africa

The [email protected] Fund is currently raising additional capital. Contact our fundraising team to find out more about the [email protected] Fund or how you can join us in creating a brighter future for Africa’s youth.