Workforce and Higher Access to Markets
Activities And Approaches
The Activity strengthens high-growth, exporting, and export-ready small and medium enterprises with targeted interventions that add capacity and remove binding constraints to their competitiveness. It centers on a grants program that requires cost-share from grantees, typically SMEs and public and private technical and educational institutions. Targeted interventions include support on workforce development, market access, and organizational capacity. Grants fall under the following categories:
Improve the workforce
Grants to recruit or retrain the labor force with adequate skills, for example, support to secondary schools to acquire proper equipment for manufacturing training. These include:
- Workforce training grants that serve immediate, specific training needs with capacity building packages for training centers in public and private technical and vocational institutions.
- Educational centers of excellence grants that help develop and showcase cutting edge workforce training and re-training learning centers in targeted sectors. The excellence grants aim to capitalize on launching new or improved centers of excellence in existing universities, vocational and technical schools, and secondary schools.
Increase market access
Support to companies in the target sectors to identify and access new customers and markets, for example, through grants to prepare for and attend major regional and international trade fairs.
Improve product quality
Support to SMEs to introduce quality management systems, make technology upgrades, and receive necessary certifications required by target markets.
During years 4 and 5, WHAM will focus exclusively on grants aimed at improving the BiH workforce.
Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) is home to a growing number of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) that are adopting international standards to supply sophisticated European Union (EU) customers, yet the economy is not generating enough jobs. Originally a three-year program, USAID’s Workforce and Higher Access to Markets (WHAM) Activity received a two-year extension until June 8, 2022 to continue stimulating job creation by advancing BiH’s trade integration with and expansion into the EU and regional markets. The Activity focuses on accelerating employment for SMEs in the metal processing, wood processing, textile/apparel, and information and communications technology (ICT) sectors.
By the end of year three, the WHAM Activity met and exceeded program targets. WHAM:
- created 1,743 new direct full-time jobs for WHAM-assisted SMEs
- assisted SMEs to complete 259 new transactions
- supported 824 individuals to receive WHAM-supported workforce development programs
- 50% of all new jobs go to youth
During years four and five, WHAM will reach an additional 1,400 beneficiaries and result in the creation of at least 840 new jobs. At least 110 additional SMEs will receive technical assistance. The extension will establish public-private catalytic mechanisms within existing market systems that inform training service providers (e.g. training centers, vocational and technical schools, and secondary and post-secondary schools), leaving behind stronger and more sustainable workforce development institutions that serve BiH’s improved competitiveness.
Project Duration: 2017-2022
Award: $6.5 million
For more information, please visit the WHAM Activity website: https://www.en.whambih.org/