Economic opportunity is critical to the future of the earth’s 2 billion people under the age of 20. But helping young people to develop their skills and interests and to become effective leaders is also important to the future vitality of communities worldwide. Winrock works to equip young people with the training and resources they need to build fulfilling and productive lives.
Budding entrepreneurs in the Mississippi River Delta region often lack resources crucial to business success — a deficit that discourages job creation, stunts economic growth and perpetuates persistent poverty. To address these issues, the Delta I-Fund program, in partnership with the Delta Regional Authority, trains cohorts of entrepreneurs in successful startup practices, connects them with local business mentors and provides them with capital sourced from private investors. Bolstered by knowledge and funding, these businesspeople are better prepared to bring their innovative ideas to life.
Contact: Jeff Stinson
Though the bulk of Winrock’s programs are outside the United States, we are committed to improving lives in our home state of Arkansas by boosting the state’s competitiveness in the increasingly important high-tech economy. To do that, we work with technology inventors and entrepreneurs to smooth the often difficult journey from raw idea or insight to viable commercial enterprise. Innovate Arkansas helps scale Arkansas ventures through three key focuses: Acceleration, Capital, and Talent. Innovate Arkansas has helped more than 140 clients add 600+ jobs to the Arkansas economy while raising $265 million in investments, and generating $226 million in revenue.
Guinea has plenty of farmable land and water, a large youth population, and three quarters of its labor force employed in agriculture. But despite these advantages, the nation is still one of the poorest in the world. One reason is the lack of opportunity that prevents women and youth from contributing significantly to the economy. Guinea’s Strengthening Market-Led Agricultural Research, Technology and Education (SMARTE) is enhancing the nation’s agricultural strengths by working with these populations, boosting education, promoting agricultural extension and introducing new technologies.
The Innovation Hub is a collaborative and diverse community of all ages, interests, and skill levels. We have worked hard to create an accessible space that is open to anyone who wants to Learn and Build with us. We believe that the challenges of the 21st-century economy require us to do everything we can to develop, retain, and attract talent — which has always been our state’s greatest asset. That demands a collaborative community approach that exposes everyone to creative possibilities and offers ready access to the information, resources, and instruction they need to bring their ideas to fruition.
We have created an open environment with tools, technology, equipment, and support, along with the opportunity to Learn and Build through formal and informal programs. The result is an acceleration of innovation that leads to new products, new businesses, and new works of art, as well as an enhanced appreciation for what it possible when we provide the pathways for every individual to realize his or her potential.
Encouraging private enterprise in Liberia’s agriculture sector is critical if the country is to lower its high rates of unemployment and poverty. Progress will require extensive changes — everything from bolstering the country’s road infrastructure and weak institutions to promoting the importance of women and youth in agriculture. As a partner on this USAID-funded program, Winrock provides technical assistance to help increase farmer productivity and profitability.
The great majority of Nigerian farmers cultivate plots of land smaller than two hectares (about five acres). The goal of this program, part of the U.S. Government’s Feed the Future initiative, is to boost food security and the income of small farmers by encouraging them to respond to consumer demand; instead of farmers selling what they produce, they need to produce what they can sell. This market-driven mentality is accelerated through training, access to financing, seeds and fertilizer and improved collaboration among those in the agricultural value chain.
This project takes a comprehensive approach to help the government of Rwanda and its tea producers eliminate child labor in this key sector of the country’s economy. Besides improving access to formal and vocational education and strengthening the enforcement of existing labor laws, REACH-T raises awareness of child labor’s long-term effects. Building on Rwanda’s policy framework, the project will expand the national response to ensure that tea producers employ good labor practices and the sector is poised for growth with sustainably produced tea.
Technology and innovation will create the 21st century’s best and highest-paying jobs. To help its home state reap the benefits of technology-driven economic development, Winrock’s Innovate Arkansas program is a critical resource for the state’s entrepreneurs. Through one-on-one client assistance specific to a company’s needs, we work to transform promising ideas and inventions into sustainable businesses.
Delivering clean electricity to regions that lack reliable access to power addresses two interconnected challenges: climate change and poverty. As part of an overall effort to provide 100 percent renewable energy to the citizens of the Indonesian island of Sumba, this program delivers the technical expertise required for schools to install solar photovoltaic (PV) systems. Powering these schools with solar — and becoming a community charging station for solar lanterns — allows teachers and students to study without interruption and helps alleviate the poverty that arises when there’s no access to energy.
Pressured by global demand for cocoa and persistent poverty, many cocoa farmers in Ghana rely on child labor. With limited opportunities for education and livelihoods in rural cocoa communities, youth between 15 and 17 years are particularly at risk of engaging in hazardous child labor. This program works with cocoa communities to raise awareness about the dangers of child labor and offers youth promising alternatives, including skills training, job placement in age-appropriate work and educational opportunities.
Overcrowded classrooms, low pay and limited professional development makes it hard to be a teacher in Malawi. And low teacher morale makes it tough for children to get a quality education. Japan Tobacco International, which sources much of its tobacco in Malawi and funds the ARISE pilot program there, is providing training and resources to teachers in three rural areas of the country where ARISE is active. This support for teachers helps improve the quality of education and contributes to lower levels of child labor.
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