In 2009, Jordanian web portal Maktoob was acquired by Yahoo! for US$80-million. Now, just three years later, Jordan is home to over 60 new tech startups–more than any other Arab state. The country’s new status as a hub for entrepreneurs stems from its stable economy, good IT infrastructure, and a strong network of support for new businesses. And as the economy grows, so does the potential for leveraging technology to link Jordanians with jobs.
This month, Souktel and the International Youth Foundation (IYF) did just that, launching a first-ever mobile phone job info service in support of IYF’s Youth:Work Jordan project. Funded by USAID and delivered with the country’s Ministry of Social Development, Youth:Work Jordan aims to empower disadvantaged 15 to 24 year-olds who aren’t in school. The mobile service reinforces this work, linking participating youth with jobs and training. A parallel SMS data collection service will also help the project collect community feedback, so that it can improve local programs.
“Out of school youth [who live] in poverty have so much to offer, but they lack services that [help them connect to] their communities,” says Rana al-Turk, IYF’s Jordan country director. “Our partnership with Souktel has provided a much-needed communication platform for youth to learn about existing jobs, and gain awareness on topics relevant to them.”
This focus on supporting at-risk youth ties into IYF’s wider efforts to boost youth employment–and empowerment–across the globe. Since 1990, the non-profit has delivered youth development programs in 86 countries.
The service launch is also a key achievement for Souktel, marking its entry into the Jordanian market. “This is a really exciting partnership for us,” says Souktel president Jacob Korenblum. “IYF is a leader in the youth employment sector, and Jordan is a key market that’s right next door to Palestine, where we’ve been established for some time. We hope this service will help the next generation of entrepreneurs get skills and training–so that we’ll see more ‘Maktoobs’ coming out of Jordan soon”.