Earlier this month, the UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) launched the Youth and Women Entrepreneurship Promotion (YoWEP) project in Addis Ababa. The YoWEP project seeks to support the Ethiopian government’s efforts to tackle the challenges of unemployment among youth and women, as well as the corresponding rise of economically driven migration.

Partners to the project believe support for enterprises run by young people and women in the strategic industrial sectors, such as agro-food processing, leather products, and textiles, will lead to employment opportunities in the country. 

Li Yong, the Director-General of UNIDO, said at the launch that the new project will reinforce the organisation’s commitment to supporting the potential of youth and women entrepreneurs.

“UNIDO is committed to harnessing the potential of youth and women entrepreneurs, as they build the backbone of successful, inclusive and sustainable industrial development,” Yong said. “By applying innovative business ideas, youth and women can address prevailing social and economic challenges, including unemployment and economically driven migration.”

The new project comes against the backdrop of increased efforts to invest in initiatives tackling unemployment and migration among young people and women in Ethiopia.

The project – supported by Ethiopia’s Ministry of Industry, the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation and the Austrian Development Cooperation – will work to find integrated strategies that can have a significant positive impact on the social and economic participation of youth and women. 


Austria’s Ambassador to Ethiopia, Dr. Andreas Melan, said there are more than a million young people in the labor market in Ethiopia, and the Government of Austria intends to champion initiatives to assist them.

“Women and girls have immense talents and potential, but restrictions are keeping them from realizing it,” Ambassador Melan said. “We believe that this project constitutes an important contribution to remove those restrictions and to create space for women and girls to participate in and shape the development of their society.”


As part of the project, Ethiopian universities will also receive entrepreneurship program support from universities in Austria and Italy.