Youth Support and Community Engagement Opportunities
On November 13, 2023, in North Macedonia, IESC officially launched the Youth Actively Create Opportunities Activity, funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The Activity aims to empower the country’s youth, enhance their positive contributions to society, and foster collective youth leadership over the next five years.
During the youth centered event, Chief of Party Nebojsha Mojsoski, in his welcome and opening remarks emphasized the importance of the initiative in generating opportunities for young people to drive North Macedonia’s economic growth and encourage active civic engagement in their communities.
Minister of Labor and Social Policy, Jovana Trenchevska, highlighted the need to actively involve young people in shaping society and reaffirmed the Ministry’s commitment to addressing key issues related to youth empowerment and employment. “Let us create policies and opportunities for young people together with them because they know best what they need in order to prosper in the country,” she noted.
Assistant Administrator for the Europe & Eurasia Bureau at USAID, Ambassador Erin McKee, emphasized the strategic connection between empowering North Macedonia’s youth and key regional goals like EU-Atlantic integration and regional stability. McKee stated: “USAID works to enable an environment where youth have equal access to well-paying jobs. When youth innovate, they develop thriving careers and can participate to improve civic life”.
A notable moment during the event was the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with Ss Cyril and Methodius University, the country’s largest public university. The collaboration aims to support students’ shift from academic to the career environment by jointly advancing the university’s Career Center.
The event featured a Youth Talks discussion on “Youth Aspirations & Private Sector Needs” with four young panelists: Tosho Trajanov, co-founder of the multi-million dollar IT company “Adeva,” operating in over 40 countries; Sanja Mitrovska, founder of the successful startup “Networker,” which has raised over 2.5 million USD to support other startups; Martin Angelov, owner of North Macedonia’s first cafe for the deaf community; and Adora Limani, a recent high school graduate accepted to Brown University in the United States, deferring her studies for a year to actively engage in the local civic sector.
During high school, Tosho Trajanov participated in a USAID project where practical work helped him develop essential entrepreneurial skills. He believes that similar initiatives can inspire young people to venture into entrepreneurship. Sanja Mitrovka encouraged young people to persevere through failures and pursue their dreams.
Martin Angelov highlighted the lack of job opportunities for the deaf community in the country. Eager to make a positive impact, he embarked on a four-month project abroad, where he learned the ropes of starting a business from scratch and returned to North Macedonia to open a cafe for the hearing impaired. Providing examples of her successful initiatives, Adora Limani emphasized the significance of civic engagement and contributing to the improvement of local communities. Engaging and thought-provoking, this youth discussion explored strategies for addressing challenges faced by young people in finding appealing employment and skills development opportunities.
The launch event highlighted that, instead of moving abroad, young people in the country simply need greater support and community engagement opportunities. University students offered interpretation services, and aspiring chefs and baristas, trained under the initiative, catered to the event, highlighting its practical impact on skills development.
In parallel with the main event, partner organization Youth Educational Forum organized a dynamic youth action with over fifty participants, featuring a climate change art installation and a university campus mapping project to identify challenges and guide future actions. Simultaneously, CEED Hub Skopje hosted a career guidance session for fifteen secondary school students, empowering them with knowledge for informed career choices.
As the USAID Youth Actively Create Opportunities Activity gains momentum, it is evident that the youth of North Macedonia are not only beneficiaries but rather the driving force behind the Activity’s interventions. The Activity will reach over 10,000 youth, harnessing their potential to shape the future of the country.