Young women making bead jewellery


Empowering the next generation. 

December 2021 to 2023

Funded by the Standard Chartered Foundation as part of Futuremakers, VSO is equipping youth with the market-relevant skills and knowledge to set up their own businesses and to identify employment opportunities, working across three countries, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.

Africa is the youngest continent, with youth comprising more than a third (34.2%) of the total population. However, they often struggle to find long-term formal employment or may remain in poverty despite working, due to low wages. 

VSO's Futuremakers project aims to

Young seamstress at her stall
  • Support, design, and implement workforce and skills development interventions. 
  • Focus on the role of youth and women entrepreneurs, and strengthen their ability to lead sustainable businesses, create decent jobs and enhance opportunities for their businesses to start up and grow. 
  • Support improvements in policy and regulatory frameworks to address barriers that hinder women and youth from equal access to employment and business opportunities. 
  • The project is engaging with 1,400 young people across three markets and empowering them with skills and knowledge to start up their businesses and identify employability opportunities.

By the end of the project our primary actors (the youth participants) will be aware of their rights and the services available to support their small businesses. The project is establishing three youth networks and raising awareness of youth-led MSEs and their business potential, while advocating for youth employment and decent work. 

Futuremakers will


We will reach 1,400 people across Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.


We will support 80 youth-led MSMEs to grow their businesses.

Enhancing youth opportunities through three approaches

Female farmers in field


Improving the workforce readiness of young people, including people with visual impairments, through (vocational and soft) skill development, as well as linkages to employers to access internships, apprenticeships, and transition to decent jobs. We also focus on improving employer policies and practices to support the employment of young people. 


We’re supporting young women and men to engage in entrepreneurship skills, increase incomes and get more market opportunities for their businesses. The aim is to increase the number of youth led MSEs established, their access to markets, business networks and their adoption of improved and inclusive business practices. 

Strengthening the enabling environment 

We are equipping young people to act as leaders and role models in their communities by supporting the development of recognised youth networks and leaders who can engage with governments, the private sector and employment associations for policy improvements. They champion job creation among excluded young people, with a particular focus on those living with disabilities.

Where we work

VSO's Futuremakers project is currently being implemented in three countries: Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. 


Tanzanian seamstress

In Tanzania youth unemployment stands at 11.5% despite the high rates of economic growth in the past decade averaging 7% (International Labour Organisation 2016). Higher education graduates can go without finding employment for months or even years as they lack the correct skills required by employers. 

Futuremakers is changing this through: 

  • Targeting 400 vulnerable youth, 60% of which will be female and 5% will be people with disabilities. 
  • Improving the capacity of 80 youth-led MSMEs’ in key business strategies including gender, finance and marketing for growth and adaptation to market conditions.  
  • Strengthening the collective capacity of youths by forming networks and associations- to protect, recognise and uphold their economic rights and entitlements, focusing on ensuring access to entrepreneurship opportunities for female youth.


Causes of youth unemployment are in Uganda range from an inadequate supply of jobs, insufficient employment skills among the workforce and high rates of labour force growth. More than 75% of Uganda’s population is below the age of 30, with the country having one of the highest youth unemployment rates at 13.3%. (World Bank, 2019). The impact of COVID-19 has only made the situation worse. 

Futuremakers is working with 500 vulnerable youth in Uganda 60% of which are female and 5% are people with disabilities, aiming to: 

  • Improve employability skills for 200 young men and women, including people with disabilities. 
  • Enhance entrepreneurship skills for 300 young people, including people with disabilities (5%). 
  • Create inclusive youth platforms and networks for 500 young people to enhance skills sharing and facilitate access to business development services. 
  • Create a conducive and supportive institutional policy and advocacy environment for entrepreneurship and employment in productive sectors.


Young men in field

Youth unemployment in Zambia has increased by 10% since 2012 (World Bank, 2021). The main causes of youth unemployment Zambia are low education and skills, low levels of entrepreneurship coupled with limited access to appropriate finance, technology and markets. The job market is also insufficient at creating formal employment opportunities so that youth can enter the workforce. 

In Zambia, Futuremakers is empowering 500 young people with employment and entrepreneurship skills. 60% of the targeted people will be young women and at least 5% will be young people with disabilities. We hope to: 

  • Improve employability skills for 200 young men and women, including people with disabilities. 
  • Create inclusive youth platforms and networks for 500 young people to enhance skills sharing and facilitate access to business development services. 
  • Create a conducive and supportive institutional policy and advocacy environment for entrepreneurship and employment in productive sectors.
Watch how Futuremakers works in this video by Standard Chartered.

Volunteering for development approach

Volunteers are at the heart of VSO's Futuremakers project, with national, international and corporate volunteers working together through our unique blended volunteer approach.  

Volunteers are key in building strategic partnerships with our partners across the three countries, ensuring they have the capacity to support youth employment initiatives. They engage with local governments to prioritize the needs of local youth. They also train and support the youth in capacity building of entrepreneurship skills.

Find out more about volunteering for development

Futuremakers standard charter logo

Funded by Standard Chartered Foundation, Futuremakers in partnership with Randstad. Tanzanian partners: Small Industry Development Organisation (SIDO) and Tanzania Women’s Chamber of Commerce (TWCC). Ugandan partners: Uganda small scale Industries Association (USSIA); Women in Technology Uganda (WITU) and Rural Efforts for Action in Development (READUganda). Zambian partners: Samfya Association of persons with Disabilities; Samfya Youth Association; Youth In Action for Disability Inclusion in Zambia (YADIZ) and Youth Resource Centers. 

Find out more

Young female farmers in Kenya
VSO/Paul Wambugu

Resilient livelihoods

Ensuring people have the skills and opportunities needed to support themselves and their families.

200,000 people benefited from our work supporting livelihoods in 2022-23.

Girls at the She Club, a safe space for girls to learn about SRHR
Chosa Mweemba

Adolescent and youth health and wellbeing

Improving health services and empowering people to exercise their right to quality care.

We helped almost 90,000 people access better healthcare in 2022-23.

Purnima at a catch up class
Suraj Shakya

Inclusive education

Making sure everyone gets the skills they need to live a fulfilled, dignified life.

We helped over 3.2 million people to access the quality education they deserve in 2022-23.

Mangrove planting

Support us with a donation