Youth development

Youth development

Photo by: Geneviève Audet-Bélanger

There are around 1.8 billion young people between the ages of 10 and 24, the largest youth population in history. This so-called ‘youth bulge’ creates opportunities but also many challenges.

KIT aims to explore key factors contributing to youth development, responding to the knowledge gap on youth. We explore why youth is a social category which is not always sufficiently included in programs and policies. There are three common features that characterize our approach:

Applied Research

An abundant amount of literature and research on youth development is diagnostic and only a small portion focuses on practical solutions. KIT holds a significant track record in ‘applied research’, which means that our findings are derived from practice and aim to improve the performance of companies and organizations working on youth development as well as defining the implications for policy.

Opening the black box of youth

Often addressing youth equals ‘checking the box’ in programmes and policies. However in reality ‘youth’ is heterogeneous and characterized by age, norms, socio-economic status, etc. This implies that youth development projects and policies should be sensitive to this heterogeneity. For instance a 15-year old single mother will not have the same opportunities and challenges as a 30-year old male university graduate. Failing to understand this will limit the impact of youth programmes. KIT aims to open up this ‘black box’. In addition, knowledge of M & E of youth interventions is limited. KIT has a strong track record in impact assessments and Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning and aims to make methodological tools more youth-sensitive.

Synergies youth and gender

KIT aims to explore where a ‘gender lens’ helps the understanding of youth as a social category. What does a ‘relational approach’ bring to an analysis of youth? Which challenges and opportunities do women and young people face?


A selection of projects from our youth portfolio include:

Youth in Agricultural Cooperatives

KIT Royal Tropical Institute, the Wageningen Centre for Development Innovation (WCDI), the Young Professionals for Agricultural Development (YPARD) with the financial support of Food & Business Knowledge Platform recently conducted a research on youth inclusion in agricultural cooperatives. The extensive literature review conducted for this explorative study highlighted knowledge gaps, specifically with regards to the role of youth in agricultural cooperatives. The findings presented in this report take into account gender dynamics at play. The different socio-economic realities amongst young women and men – which are critical in determining how easily and under what conditions they can access key resources, such as knowledge, land, and finance – are also highlighted. For more information about the project, click here.



Nu-TEC Market Development (MD) programme –a study to support better understanding of Youth in Agriculture in Northern Uganda

The objective of this study is to meet the information needs required to support planning and implementation of profitable youth engagements within NU-TEC MD markets; either through youth focused interventions or mainstreamed youth activities. The study outcome is to help the identification of what motivates the NU youth in agriculture and where they focus their activities and investments of labor and resources.



ypard LogoICARDAYPARD/ICARDA –Study on Youth and Agriculture in the Drylands

The aim of the study is to provide a diagnostic analysis and identify rural youth’s challenges, opportunities, viewpoints, aspirations and options in (selected sites) in dryland systems, with focus on Africa. In doing so, we hope to better understand their agricultural livelihoods systems and the (external) factors that have implications on their choices and decisions (e.g. decision to stay or migrate), and the overall agricultural development. As a result, we are better able to match youth’s realities with the potential role of Agricultural Research for Development in improving their livelihoods of youth.


PlanPlan International: Critical factors for successful youth employment interventions

In response to the issues faced by unemployed youth in Latin America, Plan International will be conducting a three year programme, called ‘Youth Building the Future’ which aims to equip youth with the skills and opportunities to engage in enterprise and employment in targeted regions in Brazil, Colombia and El Salvador. The programme has three components:

  1. Private sector engagement and networks to facilitate job placements for youth
  2. Training and placement; the programme aims to recruit 4,000 youth to the programme, who will receive either technical/vocational skills training or training in entrepreneurship. All participants receive soft skills training
  3. Research and Evidence gathering, including M&E and action-research.
    KIT is responsible for the research. Based on field work in the three targeted countries and a literature review we are composing a set of very practical and hands-on critical factors for effective youth (un)employment programmes to guide future programmes as well as potential scaling up of Youth Building the Future.


solidaridadSolidaridad SME Development in the Cocoa Service Provision Sector in Ghana

KIT was asked by Solidaridad to deliver practical insights into successful existing (and potential new) business models in cocoa growing communities in Ghana, with a specific interest in the target group of adult cocoa farmers and youth (17-25 years old), in particular female.

KIT tested a human-centred design approach & the web-based tool Strategyzer that fits proposition development in agriculture, approaching farmers as main customers of the to be developed service. Literature studies, two field visits to Ghana resulted in the selection of four feasible business opportunities: Stop Shops, Labour Service Agency, Land Service Agency and Training & Sustainability service.

For each of the opportunities we developed a Canvas Business Model with a clear value proposition, based on customer needs. We developed profiles for both the customer segment and for entrepreneurs. We completed the assessment with a SWOT analysis, estimation of costs and scope of the opportunity and roadmaps, both for the businesses (from prototype to launch) and for Solidaridad.


NICHE Development of a Sustainable Trade Academy at ESNEC

The project supports ESNEC, the business school of the Eduardo Mondlane University (based in Maputo, Mozambique), to consistently deliver graduates that meet the demands of the labor market, including the growing commercial agricultural sector in Mozambique. KIT is one of the partners in the Dutch consortium implementing the project. KIT has designed and provided technical support to an action research trajectory where ESNEC staff and students conduct value chain research for specific commodities.

The technical support included training of management, teachers and students in the principles of action research; supervision of the value chain research; and organizing a ‘writeshop’ where research results were discussed and reports finalized. KIT has also provided support to the development of a business incubator center at ESNEC. Finally, KIT organized a number of study tours for ESNEC staff in the region.