North Macedonia has one of Europe’s highest youth unemployment rates. Entrepreneurship is driven by necessity. Roughly half of its population under the age of 29 considers leaving the country to look for opportunities elsewhere. Many of the barriers to youth employment and entrepreneurship in the country stem from a mismatch between private sector needs and its education system.
In 2017, CIPE partnered with the University of Michigan’s William Davidson Institute, a global leader in entrepreneurship training, and with the Youth Educational Forum (YEF) to train Macedonia’s new generation of self-made entrepreneurs. Through experiential learning, the program provides training participants with the skills they need to be successful in working for the private sector, starting enterprises, and contributing to the democratic and economic development of their country. Anchored in the program, CIPE’s small business competition allows aspiring entrepreneurs from Macedonia’s youth to receive mentorship as well as in-kind and financial support from successful local entrepreneurs as they develop, test, and implement their ideas. In addition to benefitting these aspiring entrepreneurs, the engagement of the private sector in the program encourages investment in the future of the country.
In parallel, CIPE supported analysis of the barriers and opportunities for youth employment and entrepreneurship in North Macedonia. Building on its findings, CIPE’s local partner conducts advocacy and outreach aimed at amplifying public support for policies that improve economic conditions for Macedonian youth. As a result of these efforts, the Ministry of Economy released a statement asserting that its highest priority was addressing youth unemployment.