Case Studies

/Start and Improve Your Business SIYB Training of Trainers course
Case Holder:
Nasir Qasimi

Start and Improve Your Business SIYB Training of Trainers course

Promotion of Youth Employment in Fragile Settings

Background & Context

SIYB – Start and Improve Your Business is one of the largest global business management training programmes. It helps small-scale entrepreneurs start and develop their businesses as a strategy for creating more and better employment for women and men. The International Training Centre of the ILO, jointly with the ILO “Road to Jobs” project and the Balkh Chamber of Commerce and Industry, organized a two-week “Start and Improve Your Business SIYB Training of Trainers course”, held in Mazar-i-Sharif, Afghanistan from 2 to 13 July 2017

Participants completing the two-week course “Start and Improve Your Business Training-of-Trainers course” were accredited for attendance on the following two-week course “Start and Improve Your Business Training of Entrepreneurs course”. This ToT course was the first step in obtaining certification as SIYB trainers. It was facilitated by ILO-certified Master Trainers and introduced participants to both the technical content of the relevant SIYB package and to adult learning methodologies.


The Problem

According to the Afghan Central Statistics Organization, in 2014 almost 47 per cent of the country’s 27.1 million people were under 15 and 37 per cent between 15 and 39. The participation of women in the labour force is low – only 29 per cent of women are economically active. Around 66 per cent of this female labour force is engaged in agriculture and 24 per cent in manufacturing.

One of the greatest challenges is to create jobs and or business opportunities for the nearly 400,000 people entering the labour market each year. Approximately half of the Afghan population is underemployed or unemployed, and the lack of work particularly affects women; in consequence women-headed households are the poorest in the world.It is clear that alongside strategies for creating jobs, there must also be strategies for creating new businesses that will, in turn, create employment.

For those young people living in fragile states, seeking decent employment or entre-preneurial opportunities is an even greater challenge. More than 1.4 billion people are believed to be living in situations typified as “fragile”.This may be as a result of man-made or natural disasters, armed conflict, health-related epidemics and outbreaks and extreme poverty, which have made it difficult, if not impossible, for a government to administer, provide and care for the people within its protection.

There is a lack of services and often disjointed relationships between the core stakeholders who might contribute to creating entrepreneurial and employment opportunities; those developing policy or providing education; the transition from school to work, technical and vocational training; and creation of an enabling environment to enable start-up businesses to flourish and grow. There are many young people graduating but not enough jobs for them once they have left education. There is a pressing need to encourage these young people to start businesses and for trainers to encourage these young people to do so.


The objective of this workshop was to enable SIYB training providers to develop long-term business models that would allow them to function independently financially, while still maintaining service quality standards that facilitate entrepreneurial development. The course will enable the participants to:

  • acquire a detailed understanding of the steps involved in introducing SIYB
  • understand the key differences between the target groups and learning objectives of SIYB’s training packages
  • identify different strategies for marketing the services for specific target groups
  • be aware of the best practices in managing an SIYB programme, including the monitoring and evaluation tools available at different levels of the SIYB training system
  • explore future sustainability strategies at provider and national levels
  • develop new business models for financial viability of BDS providers

Value Proposition & Activities

The two weeks training was class-based with eleven participants (there were originally thirteen but two dropped out on the third day). Two Master Trainers from Tanzania ran the classes.

Learning & Results

The eleven participants in the course completed the ToT (training of trainers) training course and 150 completed the ToE (Training of Entrepreneurs) training course. Two of the participants who generated their business ideas during the ToE training have recently entered a business plan competition.

Complexities of working in a fragile setting

One of the main issues informing this kind of project is that of lack of access to finance for young people; moreover there are problems of lack of communication and equipment. Cultural values may mean that young women are in receipt of business training but are unable to put this training into entrepreneurial practice. There is also a question of the psychological impact of stress and anxiety facing entrepreneurs living and working in high degrees of risk and uncertainty characterized by conditions in fragile states.

Conclusion & any future variation

The newly qualified trainees now have to start working to find clients by building up networks. Business failures have been due to lack of planning and preparation and this kind of course could prevent such failures. For a similar course in the future, a stricter selection process is important in order to avoid dropouts; this should involve giving more detailed information to potential participants so that they are aware of what is required of them, as well as a more stringent vetting process from ILO regarding potential participants.