Filed under: Development 2.0 Social inclusion Social innovation

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Because the selection cycle is over, it feels like the YES initiative is coming to an end. In reality, this is just the beginning

In our previous blog about the Youth Employment Solutions (YES) initiative, we talked about our competition to find new solutions to youth unemployment.

After extensive discussions, the young participants came up with 14 bold ideas to implement in their local communities.

Four finalists were selected by an expert jury and the online community to receive micro-grants.

Because the selection cycle is over, it feels like the YES initiative is coming to an end. But in reality, this is just the beginning: These same young people who discussed, designed, and developed solutions will now go out put them into action.

Nearly all of the proposals focused on youth entrepreneurship and I found myself torn: On the one hand, entrepreneurship is a great option for the young, enthusiastic, and hardworking, and it should be supported by all means.

On the other, I worry that this focus on entrepreneurship may come from a feeling of being let down by society, to the extent that the only recourse left is to strike out on one’s own.

Anyhow – let’s hold that thought and see what these young people had to say about the YES initiative, youth unemployment, and how they aim to solve it.


“Young people had the chance not just to express their opinions but also to start the conversation themselves”

The winning proposals

‘From idea to employment’ is run by young people from Cetinje, a small town with an extremely high unemployment rate.

The young team at Civic creative centre are motivating youth to start their own businesses by providing information on available opportunities, helping develop business plans, and connecting them with relevant institutions and successful entrepreneurs.

Two solutions submitted by the Da zazivi selo crew were selected for financial support.

Both projects are focused on rural development and agriculture:

Skills for rural tourism promotes rural tourism as a self-employment niche; while Greenhouse production provides skills and knowledge to young people who have the basic requirements for a greenhouse – ultimately granting two greenhouses to those with the best business plans.

The fourth winning solution came from a group of young people in Rozaje, a small town in the north of Montenegro.

They are developing a website for promoting and booking private accommodation in Montenegro, as well as promoting seasonal jobs in the tourism sector.

The project will involve young people every step of the way, while supporting private accommodation and tourism development.

If young people were decision makers…

We wanted to include the insights of some of the young participants here, so we asked them how they would solve the problem of youth unemployment.

If they had the powers of decision makers, they would do great things – focus the education system more on practical skills (Matije, 30), promote and support vocational and technical training for young people (Adis, 30), integrate all employment-related programs, introduce no-interest loan schemes and cut paper and car usage in public administration to use the savings for youth employment programmes (Dimitrije, 18). 

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Da zazevi selo in action. Read more about the United Nations in Montenegro‘s innovation journey

Some participants’ reflections

Feedback on the project was overwhelmingly positive – it provided an online and offline community for young people to gather around a common interest, discuss and express their attitudes, propose solutions to their own challenges, and most importantly, get support to make an impact on the ground.

“Young people had the chance not just to express their opinions but also to start the conversation themselves, propose and vote for project ideas, and get financial support for the best proposals,” remarked Bojana, another young participant.

We will keep track of the supported projects and ask these young enthusiasts to blog about their initial results, so stay tuned for more stories from the field!

In the meantime, check out this PowerPoint with information about the project and some lessons learned along the way: