human development, social justice and sustainable social systems

YES! project in Belarus

Youth empowerment and strengthening

Caritas Belarus, together with Renovabis (an initiative of the German Catholic Bishops’ Conference focusing on East and Central Europe since the end of the Cold War) and Caritas Linz (Austria),  launched the International Humanitarian Charitable Project YES! (Youth Empowerment and Strengthening) in 2020. The YES! project – ‘Poverty reduction through employment of socially vulnerable youth in less developed regions of Belarus’ aims to improve the living standards of young people in Belarus aged 18-35 who are in need of support.

This project addresses the problem of youth unemployment due to the lack of decent work especially in rural areas, which can be solved by providing support to young people through assistance in career guidance and employment, self-employment and entrepreneurship.

During the implementation of the project, the aim is to reduce the existing difference between the socio-economic standards of living of young people in the capital and in rural areas. The target regions of the project are those regions of the country in which the average salary of the population is approximately 25-30% lower than in the capital.

The YES! project involves 1,500 young people aged 18-35 who are in less favorable socio-economic situations, living in rural areas or small towns. Teachers, social workers and members of youth and business organisations act as multipliers for solving the tasks set for the project. as well as Managers and employees of Belarusian enterprises and companies, journalists, members of initiative groups and local public organisations are involved similarly.

The YES! project  focuses on the following sectors:

  • career guidance, self-employment and entrepreneurship training;
  • combating youth unemployment;
  • rural development.

Thus, the main goal of the YES! project is to raise the standards of living of young people living in regions of Belarus with a relatively poor socio-economic status to a decent one and targeting prospects for their own development in future by developing skills that are and will be in demand in the labour market and by creating business in their home towns.

Six hundred of the most successful project participants will receive advice and information for the effective development of business plans (for example legal advice, access to legal frameworks, market analysis, contacts with entrepreneurs, development and implementation of startups, etc.). Consultation and support will be provided by experts working in the project, career guidance specialists, business consultants and lawyers, as well as representatives of the partners of the YES! project. The most promising business proposals will receive further support and assistance in an in-depth study of the economic environment and the legal framework for doing entrepreneurship and business in certain regions and districts. Young entrepreneurs will be able to learn from experienced businesspersons, benefit from  internships/apprenticeships and have access to advice from specialists from authorities and other community structures supporting entrepreneurs and small businesses.

Regional centers of socially-oriented local entrepreneurship (hubs) will become platforms for networking, exchanges of knowledge and experience and for strengthening contacts.

Thus, at the moment, the YES! project is one of the largest projects implemented by Caritas Belarus to support socially vulnerable youth in less developed regions of Belarus.

At the end of 2020, Regional Centres for Socially-Oriented Local Entrepreneurship and their branches were opened in eight small towns, which will provide consulting services for career guidance, self-employment, entrepreneurship and business planning.

The National Office held competitions for regional consultants and consulting firms  to support the implementation of the YES! project, with the aim of attracting the best expertise. A number of cooperation agreements were signed with partners.

In February, ‘training of trainers’ courses  began. At the same time was launched the development of educational, methodological and informational materials. Project managers have also begun to select young people who have applied to  participate in the project.

The YES! project will support local, regional and national authorities in Belarus to achieve the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The lack of specific local initiatives, including those focusing on job creation, especially in structurally weak rural regions, will be filled by establishing contacts with official Belarusian working groups as well as with regional level representatives of the media, youth organisations, civil society organisations and other interested institutions.

YES! is an opportunity not only to help people who find themselves in a difficult financial situation, but also to expand the opportunities for young people to develop their personal potential through vocational guidance, business trainings, consulting, development and support for start-ups.