The issue of economic exclusion is a stark one: the number of unemployed youth globally is estimated at 71 million, with many regions recording a youth unemployment rate twice as high as adults. Of the youth worldwide who are working, 16% of these 15 to 24-year olds fall into the category of “working poor.” Over 40 percent of women remain outside of the formal financial system.
The Aga Khan Foundation (AKF) therefore aims to improve the economic well-being of women and men, particularly youth. Because small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) generate 50 percent of employment worldwide, AKF is focused on increasing employment and self-employment, increasing productivity and income from producers and businesses, and enhancing access to affordable and useful financial products. AKF is also focused on increasing access to renewable energy, as 1.4 billion of the world’s people have no access to electricity, a prerequisite to business development. Much of this work is being done through Accelerate Prosperity - a new global initiative of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) in Central and South Asia.