Global Programs

NCBA CLUSA to lead $7.5 million USAID cooperative agreement in Timor-Leste, creating a better future for women and youth

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NCBA CLUSA’s USDA-funded Timor-Leste Agribusiness Development project, which ended in 2019, impacted 8,000 farmers. Here, one of those farmers, Agustina, tends vanilla seedlings.

The National Cooperative Business Association CLUSA International (NCBA CLUSA) is pleased to announce it will implement a $7.5 million cooperative agreement funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to assist women and youth in Timor-Leste to develop the knowledge and skills they need to obtain dignified work or launch their own small businesses.

Despite modest economic growth in recent decades, Timorese women and youth are often ill-equipped to enter the job market as employees or entrepreneurs. Timor-Leste‚Äôs 2021 Labour Force Survey, released in January, revealed a sharp disparity in unemployment between women (5.9 percent) and youth (9.6 percent) compared to men (4.6 percent). The five-year ‚ÄúWomen and Youth Creating Our Future‚ÄĚ activity will invest in women, youth and people with disabilities (PWDs) to help realize their potential and meet labor market demands.

By the end of the activity, NCBA CLUSA anticipates that 22,000 youth, women and PWDs will gain market-relevant skills, secure formal jobs or establish and grow job-creating enterprises across Timor-Leste.

By the end of the activity, NCBA CLUSA anticipates that 22,000 youth, women and PWDs will gain market-relevant skills, secure formal jobs or establish and grow job-creating enterprises across Timor-Leste.

Based in Dili, the activity‚Äôs Sentru ba Dezenvolvimentu Foin Sae (‚ÄúCenter for Youth Development‚ÄĚ) program will better prepare youth for job placement or entrepreneurship. To encourage youth participation from outside the capital city and other urban centers, Sentru will establish youth service hubs in Maliana and Baucau municipalities. The program will offer two tracks: employment and entrepreneurship. To ensure both tracks respond to labor market demands, Sentru will establish an advisory board with members from the private sector, business associations and commercial banks as well as other USAID and donor programs. The activity will also engage a youth advisory panel representing youth, woman and PWDs to address their needs and aspirations.

To boost employability and entrepreneurial success, Women and Youth Creating Our Future will focus on supporting both labor demand and supply. The activity will prioritize the private sector to drive industry-led mentorship, internships and similar work-based learning programs. It will also coordinate with existing donor programs, the Government of Timor-Leste (including its ministries of Tourism, Trade and Industry, and Agriculture and Fisheries), the National Institute for Labor Force Development, and civil society organizations.

The activity will partner with the Institute of Business (IOB) in Timor-Leste, working to strengthen its mission to empower women and youth. Established in 2002 with support from NCBA CLUSA, IOB is a nonprofit social enterprise applying commercial strategies to its social mission to increase the human capital of youth and women to be competent and marketable professionals. With 100 full-time faculty, three campuses and 30 doctoral lecturers from Timor-Leste, Indonesia, Australia and Malaysia, IOB is one of Timor-Leste’s leading educational and workforce development institutions.

NCBA CLUSA began operations in Timor-Leste in 1994 through a partnership with USAID and has more than 25 years of continuous presence and success in strengthening Timorese organizations. Our track record of successful programs funded by USAID, USDA and New Zealand have resulted in sustainable, local entities, including the Institute of Business, Cooperativa Café Timor and other co-op enterprises.

For 70 years, NCBA CLUSA has worked in 100+ countries in Africa, Latin America and Southeast Asia, building resilient communities, creating economic opportunities and strengthening cooperatives and producer organizations. Our work empowers smallholder farmers, women and youth in the areas of food security and nutrition-led agriculture, climate-smart agriculture, market development, natural resources management, positive youth development, gender equity and enabling regulatory environments.

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