Our Work

Other Major Projects

This section briefly describes four projects that are important in terms of financial volume, but will not be described in detail in this annual report. These programmes are either in their last year or relatively new, and thus the choice has been made to highlight them in next year’s report. Final results or more meaningful progress reports will be delivered then.

Youth Engagement Programme (YEP)

Quick Facts YEP

Countries Burundi, OPT, South Sudan
Duration 2012-2015
Financed by NLMFA (Political Parties Fund II)
Overall budget €1,882,500
Spent in 2014 € 507,362
Objective To enable youth to advocate for and improve their socioeconomic position through a multi-stakeholder approach
Partners The Hague Academy for Local Governance, Fontaine Isoko (Burundi), New Generation (Burundi), FOCODE (Burundi), PYALARA (OPT), Matmedia (South Sudan), SUTCO (South Sudan)
Youth in networks 1,070
Networks of senior leaders 5
Advocacy plans developed for improving the socioeconomic position of youth 5
Socioeconomic issues formally tabled at multi-stakeholder dialogue events 8
Youth placed in mid-level decision-making positions in civil society 7
Entrepreneurs trained 305

The Youth Engagement Programme (YEP) was initiated in 2012 with the aim to create an enabling environment for youth in order to improve and advocate for their socioeconomic position. This includes capacity building for local private and educational organisations, civil society and governmental and political institutions. Youth participation is crucial for the improvement of youth’s socioeconomic position, which will help to overcome poverty and contribute to long-term stability and political trust and legitimacy. Programme countries are Burundi, the OPT and South Sudan – the latter two being especially marked by high instability in 2014. SPARK and its implementing partners are well aware of the political sensitivity in the programme countries, which is reflected in strict political neutrality, a high level of inclusiveness and a gradual and careful approach towards democratisation and political agency.

In 2014, YEP was able to achieve good results on output and outcome levels. In all three countries, local partners have been able to develop their campaigns or initiate new ones. Youth networks continue to grow at regional and national levels, reaching out to an increased number of people. Youth are now involved in political processes, and regular exchanges between political parties, leaders and their youth leagues now exist. The political contexts in the programme countries remain challenging, but with YEP entering its fourth year in 2015, SPARK’s local partners and the youth involved are better equipped for the challenges they face.

The renewed violent conflicts in OPT and South Sudan and difficulties with a local partner in Burundi severely impacted the achievement of outcome results in 2014. Nevertheless, SPARK aims to achieve strong results on all indicators in 2015, and will continue to strengthen local partner capacities, even with a more constrained budget for the final year of the programme.

YEP has yielded valuable lessons in the realm of youth political participation. Having engaged in the political arena in three volatile countries (Burundi, OPT and South Sudan) over the past year we can conclude that:

  • Becoming politically involved is a longer, more challenging process than anticipated. This is primarily due to difficulties in gaining formal access to the political debate and process and to youth, as key stakeholders, not being taken seriously;
  • Political processes in these countries are not transparent and can be detrimentally bureaucratic; often, youth in these countries are hindered from becoming politically engaged by a lack of sufficient education and skills;
  • Fear: youth are often scared to stand up for their rights and raise their voices in these countries, where political violence and intimidation exist.

To tackle these challenges it is crucial that:

  • Youth are amply prepared before becoming politically active;
  • The right persons – pioneers – in political parties, government and other civil-society organisations are found and engaged, so that they can open doors for youth;
  • Political engagement of youth in fragile regions must be seen as a long-term process that will continue beyond 2015.

More about the programme: www.spark-online.org/projects/youth-engagement-programme

Migrant Entrepreneurship Programme (MEP)

Quick Facts MEP

Countries Afghanistan, Ghana, Iraqi Kurdistan, Morocco, Somalia, Surinam
Duration 2014-2016
Financed by NLMFA
Overall budget €1,963,625
Spent in 2014 € 392,767
Objective To support young migrants who have the ambition to start a business in their country of origin
Partners BeLink Consultancy, DutchSom Business Council, Kurdistan in Business, Recogin, Intent Morocco, MDF-West Africa, Ministry of Industry of Somaliland (MoU), Horn Rescue Center
Directly reached diaspora 540
Entrepreneurs trained 40
Supported SMEs 2

The Migrant Entrepreneurship Programme (MEP) was instigated in 2014 and encompasses activities in Afghanistan, Iraqi Kurdistan, Ghana, Morocco, Somalia and Surinam. The idea underlying this programme is to activate the potential of the diaspora to engage in business development in their countries of origin. It targets migrant entrepreneurs by supporting them with either setting up a business or a branch of an existing business in their home countries. As 2014 marked the start of this programme, activities last year focused mainly on setting up the programme and promotional activities. Initial Business Skills Trainings and Business Plan Competitions were held and entrepreneurs identified who will receive support in the coming years. For 2015, further promotional activities are planned and SPARK expects to realise scale and become fully operational in both the Netherlands and the programme countries.

A valuable lesson was learnt as a result of MEP activities in Somalia. During the implementation, SPARK noticed tensions between diaspora returnees and locals, particularly in the perception that the diaspora has a certain advantage over the locals who had remained in the country. SPARK avoided segregation by including a project to support local students in the programme, and therefore expanding it beyond the (perceived) wealthy diaspora. Now, the project provides young Somali entrepreneurs with the opportunity to connect with more experienced diaspora entrepreneurs.

More about the programme can be found here: www.spark-online.org/projects/migrant-entrepreneurship

Agri-Business Creation (ABC) programme

Quick Facts ABC

Countries Burundi, South Sudan, Yemen
Duration 2013-2016
Financed by NLMFA
Overall budget € 5,824,085
Spent in 2014 € 865,911
Objective To strengthen human security through rapid rural job creation in fragile states
Partners Burundi: Caritas, Caisse Cooperative d’Epargne et de Credit Mutuel (CECM), Centre de Formation Rural (CFR), Coopérative Solidarité avec les Paysans pour l’Epargne et le Crédit (COSPEC), Mobile Business Incubator (Mobinc), Terrafina MicrofinanceSouth Sudan: Agriculture Advisory Organization (AAO), Action for Children Development Foundation (ACDF), Keliko Farmers Association Society (KFAS), Business Support Centre (BSC), COMPASS 

Yemen: CAC BANK, For All Foundation (FAF), Yemen education For Employment (YEFE), Yemen Microfinance Network (YMN), Yemen Leadership Development Foundation (YLDF)

Entrepreneurs trained 400
Jobs created 100
SMEs created 64

The ABC programme was designed to promote entrepreneurship and job creation in agricultural value chains and is currently being implemented in Burundi, South Sudan and Yemen. The aim is to contribute to stability as well as human and food security by supporting agribusiness development projects. Local partners include business-development service organisations, farming associations, higher vocational schools and financial institutions. The programme rests on three pillars:

  1. Capacity-building of local partners and stakeholders in rural value chains;
  2. Job creation by facilitating agricultural entrepreneurship and value-chain development with local partners;
  3. Increasing government legitimacy through enhancing its role in value-chain development and food-security policy making.

In 2014, programme progress – especially in Yemen and South Sudan – was severely impacted by the volatile situation in those countries. Consequently, activities needed to be adapted or postponed, which has impacted the achievement of targeted results. Nevertheless, selected value chains could be further developed and contributions to stability and security could be made. For example, the Keliko Farmers Association Society (KFAS) in South Sudan received a warehouse for grains from the World Food Programme (WFP), but was not able to fully utilise it and to deliver on the contracts with WFP. SPARK stepped in and provided a loan to KFAS to enable the association to lend money to its members and thus increase production. Because of this intervention, the KFAS has been able to fulfil the contract with the WFP and to supply two local market buyers. As a result, the WFP does not need to import all its supplies and the KFAS diversified its customer base.

More about the programme: www.spark-online.org/projects/agri-business-creation-abc

Cooperatives Support Programme (CSP) – Rwanda

Quick Facts CSP

Duration 2013-2016
Financed by NLMFA through Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Rwanda
Overall budget €1,851,025
Spent in 2014 € 405,288
Objective To accelerate agribusiness development by promoting rural economic growth and job creation, thus contributing to food security and stability
Partners Terrafina Microfinance (TMF), Wageningen University, MINAGRI and Agriprofocus
Cooperatives trained 39 (40)*
Cooperative managers reached 271 (120)*
Cooperatives/businesses provided with financial services 10 (4)*
Percentage of women entrepreneurs trained 34% (50%)*
Market analyses conducted 4 (4)
Identified market opportunities 6 (8)
*result (target)

The Cooperatives Support Programme (CSP) started in May 2013, building on the ABC programme in Rwanda and focusing on four value chains: beans, Irish potatoes, maize and horticulture. The CSP targets on the one hand cooperatives and businesses that have already received technical support, but lack further entrepreneurship capacities. They are offered a business-skills package and training, coaching, mentoring, market and financial linkages. On the other hand, the programme is directed at existing cooperative support networks, which are also provided with coaching and training to improve their business skills. In the longer run, this will help to increase production and foster innovation, while creating jobs in the entire supply chain and strengthening support networks.

The focus in 2014 has been on the development and implementation of a business-driven capacity-building programme for the targeted cooperatives. Additionally, SPARK commissioned market assessment studies to identify promising business opportunities. An initial group of 39 cooperatives received the first tailored training covering five different modules, and tailored coaching materials have been developed. A second recruitment process has been started, which resulted in 131 applications by cooperatives from 12 districts; 60 of those will be selected for support by the CSP.

The collaboration with TMF aims at developing a new “access to finance” tool and capacity building for seven local MFIs in order to improve the investment climate for agribusiness cooperatives. SPARK initiated a context-and-needs assessment to design a specific capacity-building action plan for the cooperatives’ service providers. 2015 will be another year of intensive capacity-building activities, especially as some of the budget planned for 2014 could not be realised and has been reallocated to implementing activities in 2015 and 2016.

More info about the CSP can also be found on the Rwanda country page on SPARK’s website: www.spark-online.org/region/rwanda

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