Since launching operations in 2006, the EFE Network has trained and placed in jobs 10,000 youth with limited opportunity from across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), and has provided employability and entrepreneurship training to an additional 25,700 young women and men.

EFE believes that the employment and economic inclusion of women is crucial to the success of youth and businesses in MENA. EFE aims for, and often exceeds, a 50% female youth participation rate in its training courses. 53% percent of EFE’s graduates are female.

For country-specific results, visit our Network page

alumniimpact

For EFE graduates, a job is more that “just a job.” It’s a stake in the future of a stable society, and an opportunity to give back to their families and communities.

To help our graduates reach their potential and impact their communities, the EFE alumni network offers opportunities for continuing professional development, civic engagement and leadership, mentoring, networking, and international exchange.

 meetthefacesofefe

Manal2
meetmanal

Seamstress, 
Shouneh, Jordan




 

When she was 15 years old, Manal Suilman Abu Grain married into an unhappy household. Opportunities were limited where she lived in Shouneh, Jordan, and she had not been able to complete her high school degree.

With her husband not working and barring her from employment as well, tensions escalated with Manal’s inlaws. She had always dreamed of becoming a beautician, but her husband and inlaws did not approve.

As she sat day after day in the house of her inlaws, she become frustrated and aggravated. Manal’s dream of living in her own home – one that would reflect her personality and creativity - seemed desperately impossible.

After five years of conflict at home, Manal’s husband learned of a garment assembly line training program offered by Jordan Education For Employment (Jordan EFE) and the UNDP. He permitted her to enroll, over the protests of his own family.

In the training program, Manal learned vocational skills that would help her to thrive at a job in a garment factory – one of the few opportunities available for women in her community.

What’s more, “soft skills” training in communication, team work, confidence and goal-setting transformed how Manal dealt with stress and conflict – both at work and at home.

With her training complete, JEFE placed Manal was placed in a job as a seamstress at the Maliban Factory.

As Manal describes, “Jordan EFE encouraged me to do something I hadn’t been able to do on my own. Now, I am the envy of many other girls in my community because I have these skills and a job. Jordan EFE gave a rare and very safe work environment for all the girls, including all transportation to and from the factory.”

Manal relished the confidence that her sewing skills and job provided, and the pride that her inlaws soon expressed over the garments she created. They soon actively encouraged her work at the factory, and they noticed a major change in her personality. She had become happier and more confident.

With her job providing a new sense of independence and an opportunity to leave the house, Manal could feel herself becomming much calmer when she returned home after work. She began to enjoy spending time with her family – especially her young son.

“Now I am part of a growing Jordan EFE family and sewing has become a great part of my life. I am planning to have my own sewing workshop in Shouneh and I will sell my products to my neighbors and friends.

Five years from now, if I can’t have my own sewing workshop, I will be a sewing trainer for other women. If you want something badly enough, you can get it.”

Mona-AbdelBary
meetmona

Journalist,
Cairo, Egypt

 

 

 

With a deceased father and stay-at-home mother, Mona Abdelbary and her three sisters and two brothers struggled to make ends meet.

As the oldest of her siblings, Mona was determined to succeed and became the first in her family to graduate from university. She graduated from the Faculty of Commerce, Business Administration at the Higher Institute for Managerial Studies in 2005 and was well on her way to finding her dream job in journalism. Unlike many of her fellow Egyptian graduates, she felt lucky to find a job one year after she graduated, and she started working as an economic journalist for the online newspaper Moheet.

Despite her hard work and passion, however, Mona became a victim of Egypt’s economic downturn and was laid off in 2012. Once she entered the realm of unemployment she realized finding a job in Egypt after the January 25th revolution would be exceptionally difficult. It had been seven years since Mona had graduated and her qualifications were no longer relevant in the post-revolution job market.

The few opportunities that Mona found required that she commit to a long training period without pay or an employment guarantee or job contract. Finding a job in her field was completely out of the question. The only opportunities available had salaries less than EGP 1,000 (USD $145) per month and were located in parts of Cairo that are not safe for a young woman.

In April 2012, Mona discovered EFE|Egypt. At first, she thought the foundation was a scam. After an exhausting six months of trying to find a job, she was suspicious of being provided two months of intensive job training and placement services for free.

Mona overcame her hesitancy, and she completed a training with EFE|Egypt. The Job Placement Training Program taught her the job skills her university had never covered. “I learned how to handle workplace situations, interact with colleagues and coworkers, think critically, and respond to criticism and feedback,” said Mona, who also studied Business English and English pronunciation with EFE|Egypt, a soft skill in high demand in Egypt’s post-revolution job market.

When Mona graduated from EFE|Egypt in May 2012, she was equipped with a portfolio of skills that made her competitive and confident, especially among other graduates from the faculty of commerce. With her enhanced English and professional skills, Mona found plenty of opportunities in the customer service industry. Still, she was determined to pursue her passion for journalism, and soon after completing her training Mona found a job as a journalist at Al Bosa, an Arabic-language economics magazine.

Mona is thrilled to be in a safe work environment with social insurance and a contract that provides job security. “EFE|Egypt was a phase that completely transformed my life,” said Mona, who is now able to support herself and her family. Now seven years after her university graduation, Mona is thankful for her EFE|Egypt training and counts herself lucky to have finally begun a stable career.

Abdelilah
meetabdelihah

Client Manager
Casablanca, Morocco

 

 

 

Abdelilah Laadioui was born in Errachidia, a small town surrounded by desert in the far east of Morocco. As the youngest child and only son in a family of five, it was difficult for Abdelilah and his family when he chose to enroll in an Information Technology (IT) professional licensing program at a university in Meknes, a town almost 450 kilometers (280 miles) north of Errachidia.

Despite the challenge of attending a school so far away from his hometown, Abdelilah persevered. With his strong interest in IT, he had heard that other young Moroccans were seizing opportunities in the growing IT field and escaping the country’s record-high youth unemployment rates.

Abdelilah began his university studies with great enthusiasm and hope. But by the time he graduated, he was anxious and concerned about finding a position.

Abdelilah remembers: “When I entered into my course of study in computer science/IT, I thought I would easily enter the job market and I had enthusiasm and I told myself that one day I would launch my carrier in this field and I would even create my own business. After graduating, I understood that many young people took the same course of study, and that it is not at all easy to enter into the job market, especially in a small city such as Meknes.”

After graduating with his degree in 2011, Abdelilah tried for two years to find a steady, full time job. During this time, he worked in retail stores to make some money, doing internships when he could.

Abdelilah’s anxiety and concern turned into deep frustration with his unstable situation, which was preventing him from moving forward with his life. “To be unemployed is not pleasant, it causes disillusionment and depression, especially when you cannot take charge and look after your own needs. There is also frustration towards the family, who expects us to succeed and to enter into the job market.”

Abdelilah had decided to head to Casablanca for better professional opportunities. After coming across a web advertisement for job skills training called Al Morad - a program created by the partnership of Education For Employment – Maroc (EFE-Maroc) and The MasterCard Foundation. He decided to take action and applied to Al Morad Sales Training.

“When I spoke to my parents of EFE-Maroc, they thought that it was an ordinary organization that only held ordinary trainings. Now, at this stage, I and my family have changed our opinion: thanks to the training, I changed my vision of the job market and the manner in which I search for jobs; these are the things that we cannot learn or find easily in the city where I lived (Meknes).”

Abdelilah was accepted into Al Morad Sales Training, and his hope returned. He learned the basic skills needed for a career in sales which, when combined with his knowledge and love of IT, would open the doors to get him a decent job. The most important things he learned, according to Abdelilah, were how to search for a job, how to apply to jobs, and how to succeed in interviews.

Upon completing his Sales, Abdelilah and a few of his fellow Al Morad graduates met with a Human Resources manager from the Moroccan technology company, Iwaco. He interviewed for the position of Client Manager and successfully passed his interview.

Having learned the basic skills for a career in sales through EFE- Maroc’s training, Abdelilah has been able to expand that base of knowledge on the job, “in order to develop new skills that will help me and open horizons to lay the foundations of a good career, given my studies in the field of computer science/IT.”

Working with Iwaco has changed Abdelilah’s life in material ways. He permanently moved to Casablanca and is supporting himself independently. Now, he has the added benefit of being able to further develop his relationships and network with colleagues from his Al Morad training class.

If you ask Abdelilah, the training was about more than landing a job and a steady salary. “I think that the big change that happened to me is the fact of being able to overcome my shyness, the shyness that prevented me from advancing, to be able to express myself comfortably... My family is now reassured by me, I am now autonomous and I have more confidence in myself and in my future.”

Cropped-image-Nadia
meetnadia

Employment Trainer,
Sana’a, Yemen

 

 

 

My name is Nadia Abdelaziz Mahdi Alnoudah and I am a 27-year old woman from Sana'a in Yemen. I am married, have six brothers and sisters, and am the mother of a young boy. Today I work as a trainer teaching Yemeni youth important life and career skills, but the path to success was not easy.

In the past. women here never completed more than a very simple level of education, so my mother only went to two years of primary school and was a housewife. Like many Yemeni women today. I studied at university and knew I'd have to work after graduation. In many Yemeni families. women and men are accepting this new reality because the economic situation in the country is catastrophic.

I searched for work as an accountant, the field I studied. Eventually, I found a job as a mathematics teacher in a private school, which is a common pattern amongst female college graduates. Without the confidence or knowledge of how to apply for higher positions, we often end up accepting positions for which we are overqualified.

After five months of teaching, I decided to search for an accounting position at a governmental body because I knew that I could not live on the tiny salary I was making as a teacher. I didn't have a resume, nor did I know how to write one, so I took a photocopy of my college diploma and went to speak with the financial agent at the governmental body. I was hired, but my monthly salary was $75 per month - the same as my teaching salary. The male employee in the office made $750 per month.

After two and a half years I was supposed to become a permanent employee, which was my goal. But after three years they decided to let me go. It came as a shock.

This led to a personal crisis. I spent an entire month not stepping outside of my house. With no financial security. my self-esteem diminished even further. I was constantly searching in the newspapers, which is when I found an advertisement for Yemen Education For Employment (YEFE), and they were offering training in employment skills. I entered the training program at YEFE, and my life totally changed because of it.

During the first and second days of training, I heard one word: "change." Everything was centered on change. I couldn't remain the same person I was when I entered. So I began with the application of all the things I was learning in the classroom on a daily basis - a person needs to move from one point in life to another, and rapidly. After the training, I knew how to solve problems that arose between me and my coworkers, and how to discuss and negotiate with people in the workplace.

The training program helped break me out of my crisis state. My self-confidence returned. Finally, there was clarity in my vision of the future. I knew my points of weakness and strength, and my goals for the near and far future.

After graduating from the training program, I undertook the Training of Trainers (ToT) course at YEFE, during which I worked as a training assistant with two student groups. After that, I started working with many more groups. YEFE then nominated me to travel to Lebanon, where I became an internationally certified trainer. Now. I am a contractual trainer with YEFE and eight other organizations across a number of different fields. The same points of weakness I identified within myself I now seek to correct in my female trainees. In addition to the practical skills they lack. they enter the programs with no belief that they are talented and capable of improving their own lives. When students enter the classroom on the first day of training, many are too scared to even speak. The lack of self-confidence.

Yet at graduation, the trainees give a presentation in front of anywhere from 150-200 audience members. Can you imagine? The barrier of fear is broken. They are no longer searching for someone that can help them, because they begin to have confidence in themselves.

The essence of the work that I do is thus replacing the negative thoughts trainees have about themselves with positive, hopeful thoughts about their futures. I teach them how to change. They learn they are capable of initiating their own projects and their own work, and their goals grow larger.

In the future. I aspire to have my own business in the field of training. I want to have an organization that specializes in and caters to female trainers throughout Yemen, because once Yemeni women obtain the confidence they need to secure opportunities, they will prove themselves to be incredible, creative, and capable to develop themselves on their own.

Nadia's shared her story with readers of The Huffington Post. You can read Nadia's blog "Optimism in Yemen: Training Women to Enter the Working World" at this link.

20130515 164205
meethoussem

Customer Service Representative,  
Tunis, Tunisia





Today, Houssem Khemiri is engaged to his fiancé. He’s helping his father to pay off the family debts, and is providing financial support for his sister’s education. “I am a responsible man now. I am in charge of my family, I am not a burden for them but a solution... And I am proud of it!”

But Houssem wasn’t always so optimistic.

At 28 years old, Houssem had been looking for work for five months before he enrolled in EFE-Tunisie’s Finding a Job Is a Job (FJIJ) program in his hometown of Jendouba, in the northwest of Tunisia.

“When I was unemployed I was depressed,” he explains. “I lost hope at a certain point; all my friends and peers were in the same situation. It was really difficult at the time.”

With his father deep in debt, Houssem felt that he was a burden on his family. He knew he needed something to get his future on track.

Despite being the first in his family to gain a university degree, Houssem’s studies in business and French hadn’t given him the confidence and skills necessary to secure a job.

That changed when he enrolled in EFE- Tunisie.

“What I got from EFE is how to regain self- confidence. I believe since then that I am able to find my way by myself. I realized that I wasn’t the problem...but the solution. It is something you will never learn in an academic course.”

Through EFE-Tunisie’s Finding a Job Is a Job, Workplace Success and Force de Vente, or Sales Force, programs, Houssem transformed his life.

“EFE taught me how to focus on the positive side of life, so I was really boosted and optimistic. I had the chance to be recommended by EFE for an interview with Vistaprint and I did my best to get hired. I, overall, decided that I can make it.”

And he did. Houssam has thrived at EFE- Tunisie employer partner Vistaprint, where he serves as a CARE (Customer Advice Representative Engagement) official.

The impact of the EFE-Tunisie training went far beyond Houssem’s professional life. “All my relationships with family and colleagues were in some sort boosted”,” Houssem says, “I am now always seeing the bright side of things. I got all these positive ways to consider life thanks to the positive teaching I got from EFE.”

Now, Houssem has reason to be optimistic.

“I have a future now; I have a career plan. I am engaged with my fiancé, something impossible when you are jobless...You see! This is my life. I have a life now and it means something to me!”

Nisreen
meetnisreen

Administrative Assistant,
Jerusalem, Palestine





I graduated in 2013 in June and I started to look for work. It took me 5 months of hard searching before I eventually got to Palestine EFE.

I was running from one place to another to submit my CV, sharing it through Twitter, Facebook, and social media – everyone I knew I asked for a job. To practice nutrition which I studied in school, I knew I had to get a license. But getting a license for nutrition is extremely expensive, and I couldn’t afford it. It was 5 months of stress, frustration, feeling negative, bad and useless.

My parents had been separated for years. Therefore, my mom took the responsibility for her four kids. We didn’t have enough salary to put into the family. So, my mom had to get herself into another job besides teaching, and we had been relying on my grandmother’s salary as well. After years my dad died and unfortunatley my grandma died, and it was really hard not working. I felt heavy on my family.

I heard from my friends about the PEFE training – I was like OK, why not, I’m doing nothing and I am useless now. I went into PEFE and I’m not exaggerating – I thought I was useless with no hope and lots of negative energy.

Everything changed with this training. It’s not just a guide to success in the work place. It is more than that. They taught us what the environment of the work place will be like – how to act smart in the interview - how to market yourself, how to know your strengths and weaknesses, how to work under stress by giving us training and information. Our trainer was very professional, and I want to thank EFE for choosing trainers with high quality standards and professionalism.

Besides all this, and most importantly, it has to do with giving us a positive push – they worked on our psychological status. This is the most important thing – because youth are lost between graduation and work. As youth we need somebody, something, anything to support us and to understand our needs and meet these needs – this is what exactly and really the PEFE institution is doing.

We need the PEFE in every city to reach high stages of development in the society. After graduation is really the stage of “lost.” Therefore, the PEFE understands and holds the youth’s hands and prepares them to very important stage of their life until they reach their real dreams. Really, it took me from a lost state to: yes, I know where I am and I will not lose hope – this is what it was. PEFE does not offer just data, information, and exciting and beneficial activities – it was also positive hope. This is what we need as young people.

PEFE is not a fake organization like many others – it does what it’s supposed to do. It is really beneficial for young people, and we need to spread the awareness of such organizations.

And then after the training program, I finished with a positive energy and started to look at myself in a brighter light, and looked at what I still needed to work on. I started all over again to go to places and hand in my CV, and then PEFE called me for an interview.

I went to the interview and it was perfect – completely excellent. I marketed myself so well – I was so positive in the interview. I got the job! It’s wonderful. I work at Either Insurance Agency – I do not work in my major but it is still related to my minor. The company is so wonderful – how they treat me and care about me – I really want to do more through this company. It opened my eyes to another subject in my life outside of my major. My boss said that if I want more training, I can do it.

Now, I’m studying Hebrew, which is useful for my job and necessary to get my license and I use my salary to pay for it. I feel so good about myself, and I know what I want. I feel so powerful – I found myself.

Without my job, I can’t be who I want to be.

If I could change what happens to young people after they graduate, I would tell companies that they need to give a chance to youth. Youth are full of energy, ready and want to give their power and energy into something useful for their society.

Companies should really take advantage of youth energy because they are the backbone of each and every society. If bosses had spent five months looking for a job, they would know what it feels like to be so depressed and to finally get that chance.

When I was desperate I thought I might have to leave my family and go out of my country to find a job, which was very frustrating for me. Young people have a lot to give to the company and to the country.When I was desperate I thought I might have to leave my family and go out of my country to find a job, which was very frustrating for me. Young people have a lot to give to the company and to the country.

There were differences between the university classes and PEFE classes. In university it was all sitting at the desk and getting information and data whereas at the PEFE training yes there were information and data but with exercise and training on certain situations and even playing roles to get the ideas to us very easily and in an exciting way.

For example: our trainer did games that put us under stress and I learned to focus. We did other games, too, like when our group had to build a structure out of marshmallow and pasta. That training was not about pasta and marshmallow. It was about how to communicate with others, how to deal with others – who will take the lead? Who will follow and take directions? You go into another world when you do those exercises – you get how people think, and notice the different ideas and decisions that are taking place and how work can be fun.

When I think about what it was like for me to enter work after the training – I think other people who didn’t take the training would have felt fear, not so confident and face many difficulties. But for me, I thought it would be fun, that we would be a group of people who will communicate and work together – it was so comfortable. I communicate with my employer, and everything is great.

I am an active volunteer in my community too. Once a week I go to the elderly institutions where I volunteer as a nutritionist, spreading information about a healthy life to elderly people or the people responsible for them. And we clean schools that are in bad condition, prepare free meals for children during Ramadan, and we collect and clean unused clothes then distribute them through a big bazaar for people who can’t afford to buy clothing.

I do this every Friday, which is our weekend, when most people want to relax. But this is relaxing for me. To see the smile on the elderly’s face, they give you positive energy. It is nice. My friends say “we don’t see you anymore – you’re too busy.” So I tell my friends to come with me to the volunteer work – if I don’t give to my society now, when else will I give to it?

Getting to work at my job makes me more happy about who I am – if I didn’t have this work, I wouldn’t be in the psychological stage that is ready to give to people, draw a smile, give hope, spread happiness and positive energy.

What do I want to do in the future? For this moment, I am thinking of continuing in my Hebrew. And I really want to continue a Master’s and PhD hopefully.

My message to youth is to dream, dream, and dream “nothing is impossible until it is done” as Mandela said. I say your limit is not the sky but beyond and such an organization the PEFE opens doors and acts as the key for these dreams.

I found myself again by working. My real dream is to host a TV show for health on the MBC channel. And later I will open my own big center for youth and community work in my own country. Dreams have no limits. PEACE.