Over the past three years, Methanex Egypt, in cooperation with the United Nations’ International Labor Organization (ILO), has been executing the joint partnership agreement to bring the full-scale of the ILO’s Decent Jobs for Egypt’s Young People (DJEP) project to Damietta where its methanol production plant is located, addressing one of Egypt’s most pressing challenges, that of youth unemployment and underemployment. The project aligns with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 2030 and Egypt’s Vision 2030, directly addressing SDG #8 on Decent Work.
The project aims to create decent employment opportunities for youth in Damietta, through promoting entrepreneurship and facilitating job matching processes. It also aims to build capacities of local partners on the ground for improved services to support unemployed youth and job matching processes.
Through the agreement signed in 2019, Methanex, in partnership with ILO, has been supporting micro, small and medium enterprise owners, would be owners and job seekers through three key world-class international ILO programs: Get Ahead Program for Women in Enterprise, Start and Improve Your Business, and Job Search Clubs.
The Get Ahead for Women in Enterprise program is designed to promote enterprise development among low-income women, who want to start or are already involved in small-scale business through strengthening their basic business and people management skills. Methanex Egypt also provides the Get Ahead for Women in Enterprise Training the Trainers (ToT) program, in collaboration with the National Council for Women (NCW), targeting women from Damietta to ensure the sustainability of the program in the future by trainers from the community.
Start and Improve Your Business (SIYB) program aims to enable potential entrepreneurs to develop concrete, feasible and bankable business ideas to start their own small businesses. This program is delivered in partnership with Egypt’s Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises Development Agency (MSMEDA) under the auspices of the Ministry of Trade and Industry.
Job Search Clubs (JSC) program provides an enriching environment where young people gather and share resources and contacts while searching for jobs in various fields under the supervision of trained facilitators. This program is delivered in cooperation with the Egyptian Ministry of Youth and Sports.
As COVID-19 hit the globe and the number of infections increased in Egypt, Methanex and ILO took the decision to put the project on hold in 2020 to ensure the community’s safety and prevent any infections that can result from gatherings and face to face interactions that can take place during the program’s training delivery.
In March 2021, Methanex resumed the program while taking all the necessary precautions to protect the different program beneficiaries. The relaunch started with running a number of Business Development Service Clinics that offer free consultation to beneficiaries who have received the “Start and Improve Your Business” entrepreneurship training through the Methanex – ILO partnership in 2018, 2019 and early 2020. The sessions were designed to help beneficiaries assess their projects’ status, understand factors affecting their performance and provide solutions to challenges they have faced. These BDS clinics were conducted in cooperation with the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise Development Authority (MSMEDA) and the Chamber of Wood Working & Furniture Industries (CWWFI).
Following the BDS clinics delivery, Methanex and ILO have been working on an intensive training plan including the delivery of seven rounds of the JSC training to 109 beneficiaries so far, ten courses of SIYB training to 193 young entrepreneurs in coordination with CWWFI, a number of syndicates and the Furniture Hub, including sessions to graduates of Engineering, Dentistry, Pharmacy and Physiotherapy Faculties at Damietta Horus University. The execution plan also included the delivery of “GET Ahead for Women” sessions to 327 women from Damietta to date as well as GET Ahead TOT refresher training to 14 trainers from the community to ensure the continuity of the program.
This intensive plan has resulted in the successful completion of the SIYB program after supporting a total of 447 entrepreneurs in Damietta over the past years who were also provided with focused business sessions including Marketing and Digital Marketing to further support their projects. The program resumption has also resulted in the successful fulfillment of the 2021 target for the GET Ahead for Women in Enterprise program to reach a total of 646 women so far since the beginning of the program. This is in addition to delivering the Job search club training to a total of 243 trainees so far.
By supporting this number of young entrepreneurs, Methanex Egypt takes solid steps towards achieving its Social Responsibility strategy and goals that aim to provide Damietta youth with better opportunities and improve the standard of living, not only that of the program beneficiaries but also of other community members and related businesses and markets that can be created around them.
Through this project, Methanex Egypt sets a unique model of social responsibility to the private sector that provides a focused approach to social investment that addresses the community needs while aligning with the Government of Egypt’s priorities, and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 2030.
Methanex aligns this social investment program with Egypt’s Vision 2030 through coordination with “Hayah Karima” or “Decent Life” government initiative endorsed by H.E President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, that works on improving the quality of life in the poorest rural communities within the framework of the Sustainable Development Strategy: Egypt Vision 2030, through decreasing multidimensional poverty and unemployment rates. Methanex and the ILO have conducted visits to Hayah Karima NGOs, in coordination with the National Council for Women covering five villages in Damietta to include women residing in those areas within the GET Ahead for Women program.
The ILO Decent Jobs for Egypt’s Young People in Damietta project remains active as one of Methanex’s social investment projects. Methanex is currently preparing new intakes of the different training programs under its ILO funded project to empower more individuals from the community building on its successful partnerships with the different local entities and authorities that have positively impacted the program delivery over the past couple of years. Through this partnership, Methanex continues to honor the true spirit of Responsible Care, the governing ethic that drives the company’s Social Responsibility work.