Ethiopia Jobs Challenge Fund

Support for the Ethiopia Refugee Program

The Ethiopia Jobs Challenge Fund provides grants to businesses to create jobs for refugees and host communities, and provides grants to Technical and Vocational Training (TVT) Entrepreneurship Centers and other incubators that support early-stage entrepreneurs in Ethiopia from refugees and host communities.

Currently the focus of the Fund is restricted only to businesses operating in Addis Ababa City administration. Applicants must be able to evidence this.

Join us in making a difference and apply to the Ethiopia Jobs Challenge Fund today.

The Ethiopia Jobs Challenge Fund is organised into three funding ‘Windows’;. as Window1, Window 2 and Window 3. Select the Funding Window that is most relevant to your needs and look at each window to find out more on their current status.
The fund comprises three funding windows applying different routes to reach Refugees and Ethiopians as beneficiaries

Window I

Business Window: Pilot Grants

  • •Potential applicants: Legally registered start-up business and early stage businesses
  • •End beneficiaries: Refugees and host communities
  • •Size of grants: Between 500,000 BIRR and 1,000,000 BIRR

Window II

Business Window: Scale-up Grants

  • •Potential applicants: Growth and larger established businesses
  • •End beneficiaries: Refugees and host communities
  • •Size of grants: Between 1,000,000 BIRR and 12,000,000 BIRR

Window III

Incubator and Accelerator Window

  • •Potential applicants: Incubators, accelerators, and entrepreneurship centers seeking funding to support cohorts of entrepreneurs/ start-ups
  • •End beneficiaries: Refugees and host communities
  • •Size of grants: Between 500,000 BIRR and 1,200,000 BIRR

About Us

Ethiopia Jobs Challenge Fund

What is the Ethiopia Jobs Challenge Fund for?
The Ethiopia Jobs Challenge Fund is financed by KfW and the Ethiopian government with the objective of assisting entrepreneurs in developing their start-up or existing operations towards a more sustainable path and to support Technical and Vocational Training (TVT), entrepreneurship centers, and other incubators that in turn assist business entrepreneurs in Ethiopia with a primary focus on employment opportunities for refugees and host communities.

Procurement Contract/Lot Name:
MoLS/TVET/BMZ 2014683621/NCB-05/2024

Ethiopia Jobs Challenge Fund Implementer
The Ministry of Labor and Skills (MoLS) working in cooperation with various relevant stakeholders are the implementers of the Challenge Fund and successful applicants will be provided grants by MoLS.

Challenge fund applicants
We welcome concept notes from business applicants under window 1 and window 2 and incubators and accelerators under window 3.

Mode of disbursement
Grant payments will be made in instalments and grantees will need to report satisfactorily on how monies have been spend before further payments are made.

We want to extend our heartfelt appreciation to all participants who have submitted their concept notes for our Jobs challenge fund project. Your dedication to advancing vocational & training and employment creation initiatives are commendable.

Evaluation Process Update:

Ministry of Labor and Skills together with the project team is diligently reviewing each concept note to ensure fair and thorough evaluation. We understand the anticipation surrounding the outcome and assure you that we are working tirelessly to finalize the selection process.

Selected Projects Announcement:

The selected projects will be announced individually via email to the respective project owners. We aim to notify all participants of the evaluation results by Middle upto the last week of May this year. Please ensure that you regularly check your email inbox, including spam or junk folders, for updates regarding the evaluation results.

Next Round of Applications: Exciting News for Future Applicants:
We are thrilled to share that the 2nd round of applications for project grants will be open for submissions in the months to come. This presents another opportunity for passionate individuals and organizations to propose innovative projects that contribute job creation for refugees and host communities as well as to the advancement of vocational education and training.

Stay Informed:

Keep an eye on our website and social media channels for upcoming announcements regarding the 2nd round of applications. We will provide detailed information about the application process, eligibility criteria, and deadlines in due course.

We appreciate your patience and understanding throughout this process.

Contents of window 1 and 2 will be updated also, if you have any suggestions to improve the content of the website it will be highly appreciated.

Frequently Asked Questions

Questions on the overall fund

A challenge fund is a competition for funding where applicants put forward proposals that align with the objectives of the challenge fund, in this case creating employment opportunities for refugees and host communities. Those applications that best fit the objectives of the fund are supported through grants.

Challenge funds make use of a two-stage application process with a short concept note as the first stage in the application process. Concepts are then shortlisted and applicants whose concepts have been shortlisted are asked to complete more detailed full applications. The ensures that applicants can see if their concepts fit the objectives of the fund before more detailed information is requested. It should be noted that having your concept shortlisted does not guarantee that your project will be funded.

The fund is divided into three separate funding windows in order to reach refugees and host communities through different routes, and to group similar types of applicants together in the competition for funding. The competition for funding is effectively divided into three competitions for funding, which allows for more effective comparison between competing applications for support.

Windows 1 and 2 target existing businesses that have the capacity and interest to create jobs for refugees and host communities.

Window 3 targets incubators, accelerators, and entrepreneurship centers that support refuges and host communities to establish businesses and support start-ups. The Ethiopia Jobs Challenge Fund can only contract with established legal entities. As such support to aspiring entrepreneurs and start-ups that are not yet properly registered needs to be provided by incubators, accelerators, and entrepreneurship centers that can help aspiring entrepreneurs establish their businesses.

For windows 1 and 2 that are currently open to applicants, you must be a registered business to apply. See the detailed eligibility criteria for window 1 and window 2. It should be noted that for window 2, that provides grants in the range 1,000,000 BIRR to 12,000,000 BIRR, the size of grant you apply for should not be larger than your total annual sales or annual turnover.

The detailed eligibility criteria for window 3 will be published when window 3 is launched in the second quarter of 2024.

In order to apply for funding you must complete the concept note form for the funding window you applying for. Window and Window 2 are currently open to applicants and there are separate concept note forms for each funding window.

You must download the relevant concept note form, answer all the questions on the form, and then upload the completed form before the deadline of 6:00pm (12:00 in the evening local time) on February 25, 2024 . Concept notes received after the deadline of 6:00pm (12:00 in the evening local time) on February 25, 2024 will be rejected.

Registering your interest in the fund is encouraged so that we are aware of the level of interest in Windows 1 and 2 leading up to the application deadline on February 25, 2024. Registering interest includes providing your contact details so we can then contact you with any updates leading up to the concept note deadline on February 25, 2024. All updates will also be included on the Ethiopia Jobs Challenge Fund website so if you do not register your interest you can still visit the website to get the most up to date information.

No. You can submit your concept note without registering interest in the fund. However we encourage potential applicants to register interest for the reasons set out above.

We are planning to hold a webinar in January 2024 before the deadline for windows 1 and 2 on February 25, 2024. If you register interest you will be informed of the details of this webinar. We will also publish information on the Ethiopia Jobs Challenge Fund website so if you do not register your interest you will still be able to get the details of the webinar from the website. The webinar will provide an opportunity to hear more about the fund and the application process.

We will inform all applicants for both windows 1 and 2 on March 29, 2024 as to the outcome of their concept note submissions. Shortlisted applicants will be provided with relevant information and guidance to move to the second stage in the application process. Timelines will be confirmed to shortlisted applicants with 6-8 weeks provided to complete full applications and funding decisions announced in June 2024.

We expect to run further funding rounds for windows 1 and 2 with opportunities to apply in 2025 and 2026 depending on the success of this first funding round.

Yes. Applicants that are unsuccessful can apply again if there are further funding rounds. However, applicants should evolve their concepts or propose different concepts in order to be more competitive if they reapply in further funding rounds.

You can only submit one concept note in an application round. If you submit several concept notes or submit one concept multiple times we will only assess the concept note submitted last. So if you submit a concept note before the deadline of February 25, 2024 but want to adjust your concept, you can make the adjustments and resubmit and we will assess the most recent submission.

We expect to launch window 3 the second quarter of 2024. Further announcements will be made on the Ethiopia Jobs Challenge Fund website.

On the left of this page there is a box where you can ask additional questions. In order to maintain fairness and transparency in the Challenge Fund, answers to additional questions will be published on this website so that all potential applicants can see the questions and the answers. If you have a question that is very specific to your business you can raise this question with us, and the question and answer that we publish will be ‘generalised’ so that we do not reveal any sensitive or confidential information about your business that may be included in your question.

At the concept note stage we will respond to questions in this way and publish additional questions and answers on the website periodically leading up to the concept note deadline of February 25, 2024. We will not enter into direct discussions with potential applicants at the concept note stage.

Once concepts are shortlisted we will be in direct contact with applicants and will provide more detailed guidance and support to applicants as they develop their full applications.

No, a government vocational training institution may not apply for Window II. Note should be taken that Window I and II applicants have to be business enterprises to comply with the specified eligibility criteria.

Yes, valid Trade license is a minimum eligibility criterion to apply for the CF. Businesses which are in operation but don't have license for various reasons and will not secure them during the application process to the CF will not be eligible for funding. We hope there will be further rounds of funding and business that do not yet have license in place now but will secure them in the future can apply in the hoped for coming rounds of the CF. These will be posted on this website.

Business name is simply how your currently ongoing business is known in the market and its main delivery to its end users or customers. For instance, XYZ wood and Metal work, ABC food products retail Shop, XXX Men Barbery, YYY delivery service etc.

No, NGOs and faith-based organizations cannot apply directly to the Jobs Challenge Fund for a Window 1 or 2 grant. Applications to the Fund under Window 1 and 2 must be led by a registered company, but NGOs and faith-based organizations may be part of a registered company-led application. For example, a company may need assistance from an NGO or faith-based organization to train refugees in specific areas, such as hospitality. In such circumstances, the company must apply to the Jobs Challenge Fund and, as part of its application, should include the relevant costs of the NGO or faith-based organization with which it plans to work.

No, individuals cannot apply for funding only business can apply. But if the person who heads an NGO has registered his or her own business such a business can apply.

Yes. All interested parties are encouraged to register their interest in the Fund, including applicants who have not yet completed the registration process for their business, interested individuals, and NGOs and faith-based organizations. However, to be eligible for support, applicants must be a business and have the appropriate licenses. Applicants may submit concept notes while the business registration process is being completed, but the business must be properly incorporated to receive a grant. In terms of the timeline for current Window 1 and 2 applications, applicants must be able to demonstrate that their company is properly registered by the application date.

Please refer to the FAQ page of the website under the title “ Questions on the overall fund” subtitled as number 4 which explains “ how do I apply for funding”.

There is no need to contact MoLS directly in order to apply to the Jobs Challenge Fund. All applications are online and through the Jobs Challenge Fund website. Based on your preference first download forms for window 1window 2, complete and then upload it before the deadline. If your concept note is shortlisted among other competitors, you will be contacted for the next steps. Signing agreement with MoLS is the final stage of the CF process which will occur only with finalist (winning) challenge fund grantees.

Please follow the instructions for downloading and uploading the concept note forms in each window. The Steps are:

1st) download concept form for either window 1 or window 2 (based on your choice)

2nd) Save with file name in your desktop/laptop/tablet,

3rd) Fill and complete the concept note; make sure all updates are saved. Look at the guidance on the website and on the form itself as you complete the concept note form.

4th) Once you have completed the form and are ready to submit, gGo to the website and click the upload icon either window 1 or window 2 (based on your choice)

5th) upon completing data such as name, email etc… click “choose file” under the title “registration form” where you have to select the file with your completed concept note.

6th) Once linked, make sure the name of the attached file which is the right one appears in the box “choose file.”

7th) Then click the “submit” icon which automatically sends the file to the system.

Finally, if the whole uploading process is successful, it appears the following message on the window ;

“Submission is successful”

“Concept note has been submitted.”

Please note that the downloadable application form has a guideline at the end of the page which can provide you with explanations on terminologies and quick support on how to complete each question of the form.

The website also has a FAQ page so that you can refer to them and clear out any of your doubts when you apply for the challenge fund. If you still feel there are more questions to raise, ask your question by completing the box on the website where additional questions can be raised, send and the reply will be posted on the FAQ as soon as possible.

In addition, we will organize a webinar or zoom virtual meeting soon which will address many of your questions including explanations on how to fill the concept note.

Questions in the concept note forms of window 1 and window 2 have corresponding blank spaces designed to automatically limit when it reaches the maximum allowed number of words.

This challenge fund Aim to create jobs for refugees and host communities, and is designed for businesses which are in operation substantiated by presenting valid trade licenses. This challenge fund will have a number of calls in the future and stay tuned by checking all updates on the website as long as you have plan to meet the eligibility requirements mainly possesing trade license.

Upon completing the two stage selection process, we will announce winning grantees and the number of winners are determined by the good quality and well-targeted concept note design and plan for implementation.

Please note the minimum eligibility criteria to apply for the Challenge fund competition.

Yes you are only expected to fill the table on the form based on your choice either window 1 or window 2. The next step if your concept note is shortlisted please refer on the FAQ page of the website under the title “Questions on the overall fund” subtitled as number 8 which explains “ what are the next steps if my concept note is shortlisted”

Yes: as long as you would be able to submit a separate concept note related to each entity as well as meet the CF eligibility criteria, mainly each concept note would be able to demonstrate how the proposed project will benefit refugees and host communities.

Questions specific to Window 1

Yes. If you are a well-established business or a larger business you can still apply for a grant of between 500,000 BIRR and 1,000,000 BIRR through window 1. We are seeking to achieve impact at scale and as such we have developed window 2 to target larger businesses with larger grants available between 1,000,000 and 12,00,000 BIRR. However, if a lager or a well established business has a proposed project that meets the criteria of creating jobs for refugees and host communities that requires a grant of between 500,000 BIRR and 1,000,000 BIRR they can apply to window 1.

No. Not under window 1. As we are targeting start-up and early stage businesses through window 1 we do not require a minimum turnover to apply. However, the applicant must have the capacity to implement the scale of project they are proposing for challenge fund support. For window 2 there is an annual sales or annual turnover requirement (see below).

Questions specific to Window 2

For larger and well established business applying to window 2 the grant applied for must not be larger the annual sales or annual turnover of the business. For example if an business has annual turnover or annual sales of 5,000,000 BIRR the maximum grant they can apply for is 5,000,000 BIRR.

This requirement is there to ensure that applicants to window 2 propose projects that are aligned with the scale and maturity of their business.

The most recent year of trading for which you have a complete account should be used.

There are related statements on the FAQ page of the website under the title “Questions on the overall fund” mainly question number 5,6 and 11.

Generally, it is good that you have made the registration which shows an interest and this doesn’t hinder you from preparing a concept note for the window you finally choose. So if you have registered your interest in window 1 you can submit a concept notes under window 2, and if you register your interest in window 2 you can submit a concept note under window 1. Please note that you can only submit one concept note in an application round. If you submit several concept notes or submit one concept multiple times we will only assess the concept note submitted last before the specified deadline.

If you have questions which are not answered in our FAQ's, ask your question below and we will update the FAQ section periodically so everyone can have the updated information.