A few months before International Youth Parliament 2000 (IYP2000), I started a project called the Career Planning Center, with the aim of helping young professionals from the Balti region find a job.
At the IYP2000 meeting, I attended a presentation on the Making Cents curriculum and also met with Poonam Ahluwalia, director of YES 2002. Through these experiences, I realized that the need for employment comes more from youth who have ideas and motivation but no skills and resources. I thought about using Future Business Leaders Association’s informational and human resources to help these young people start their own businesses and become job creators rather than job seekers. In April 2001, we established the Youth Employment Center (YEC) in Balti, Moldova.
Our main role in the region is to be a facilitator for youth to create and finance their own micro-businesses. Our project provides entrepreneurial training, using Making Cents, and we organize dialogues between youth with micro-businesses and local investors and financial institutions.
The Center consists of five staff members between 20 and 23 years old, who have degrees mainly in business education or management and accounting. These students were recommended by Economics faculty at Balti State University. They proudly devote their talent to helping other youth create their own businesses.
During the project implementation period, we intend to train 100 young people from the Balti region between the ages of 18 and 30. However, requests for participation in our training programs show that the number will exceed the initial planned number of trainees. We have already selected 11 business ideas for implementation in the first quarter of 2002. Five of these 11 projects were already launched on the Internet, as part of YEC’s eBusiness Development Program, organized by the Bureau for Educational and Cultural Affairs, the U.S. Department of State, and the IREX Moldova Program.
The success shown in urban areas emphasized the value and importance of such a project for Moldova. We would like to expand the project to rural areas in northern Moldova. We plan to implement a Rural Youth Employment Program that will take as a model the village of Ciuciulea, one of the biggest villages in the Balti region (4,000 inhabitants). YEC’s trainers will promote three extended training programs for 50 youth from this village. We intend to create 10 micro-businesses in this village, employing these youth and contributing to the development of the village. This program will also give us the opportunity to conduct a case study on rural youth employment for Moldova and elaborate a youth employment strategy for northern Moldova. We hope to present this study at YES 2002 and then propose to local governments that they begin implementing the program in their regions.
One of the key challenges has been the lack of support from national, regional, and local leaders. Initially, I thought that this project would get the attention of local and regional governments, but only the regional employment office has participated, requesting that we train the unemployed young people who come to them. However, I consider it more valuable to have the appreciation and interest from the target group of young people, rather than from government leaders and agencies.
Entrepreneurial education of youngsters in Moldova—together with good information and consultation—are key factors for a successful youth employment strategy. This “recipe” has created a new mindset in the youth trained at YEC, many of whom are willing to volunteer to tutor other youth who are interested in starting their own businesses.
Originally published on January 1, 2003