Project Results: 


Business support for unemployed youth

About the project
In this project, a vocational training model was developed to attract more youngsters to the WASH sector and get finally employment or become self-employed. The ‘graduates’ could get access to a small loan (from a revolving fund) and were also be trained on crowdfunding to acquire alternative funding sources. This way, they are supported to create small sustainable and innovative businesses in the sector. The project was developed with a local credit organisation (Fariad).

Key results

  • Training approach was tested and modified to a new concept.
  • 18 youngsters were trained: 15 of them have started their own business.
  • 3 entrepreneurs/start-ups were supported with a loan.
  • A loan from the fund to the start-up ‘WASHKing’ meant starting capital to pre-invest for 20 toilets: access to sanitation for 110 people.

Tips for the future

  • Entrepreneurship is a complex skill to teach, and takes time, like incubation. Extensive training and coaching over a considerable period of time is needed.
  • Trainees from the low-income groups might require compensation if spending time and travel.
  • Crowdfunding via social media is still uncommon in Ghana. Fundraising occurs more in social settings like churches.
  • Work with sharp reporting guidelines when working with a revolving fund/local credit organisation.

Potential for growth
The developed approach is now a business line within lead partner MDF, also enrolled in Benin and Sierra Leone. The revenues show they are in business. MDF indicates their scaling factor as 3-5 times. Also, EnterWASH made it possible for MDF to include a new service in Ghana: the IBA hub, Inclusive Business Accelerator. This hub has two components: EnterWASH and IAC (inclusive Agribusiness Centre), the latter being funded by the Dutch Embassy. This can be considered as a spin off of the EnterWASH project. MDF also won a World Bank contract for an Innovation hub, which resembles a lot to VIA Water.

Project partners
MDF West Africa, Fariad

2016 - Mid 2018


Accra, Ghana


EnterWASH is introduced in response to two major challenges in Ghana: 1) Access to good water, sanitation and hygiene facilities continues to be a huge challenge in Ghana; and 2) Poor WASH facilities are a shocking feature in urban and rural communities, and the source of numerous serious diseases. There are numerous initiatives targeted at improving WASH facilities in the country, however few have so far looked at the business opportunities in WASH. In parallel, there are large numbers of young people who are competing for the same jobs and who lack the experience, support and financial capacity to start their own business. In response to this, there is a clear rise of programmes promoting entrepreneurship development and self-employment among youth. The offer of entrepreneurship development programmes for youth that specifically target improvements in the WASH value chain in Ghana has thus far been untapped. It is against this background that EnterWASH was developed.

Project Plan

The programme will be undertaken in three phases: an inception, implementation, and review phase. Central to the inception phase is the development of a WASH Enterprise Support Network, bringing together a range of different stakeholders with expertise in WASH and entrepreneurship. In the implementation phase, we are seeking to pilot the programme focusing on four elements: awareness raising; a practical training programme; business support services through mentoring and coaching, and facilitation of financial support through crowdfunding. During the review phase, we will reflect on lessons learned during the inception and implementation phase and on this basis develop a comprehensive WASH entrepreneurship package.

Target group

Youth targeted in this programme are women and men aged 18-35 who are in neither full-time education nor formal (self) employment at the time of the programme. We intend to recruit young people from a mix of education and professional backgrounds (fostering cross-disciplinary innovations). The training will be designed in such a way that youth with only a basic education can participate and benefit. We aim for 10 female and 10 male participants in the pilot programme. Final beneficiaries in the project are the communities in which the businesses are introduced.


To ensure EnterWASH can expand its reach, we will seek to offer the training package to relevant organisations working across Ghana and in other countries where MDF operates. It will be offered commercially based on a package fee for the WASH entrepreneurship manual and training of trainers. Possible customers are NGOs, international organisations & local and national government agencies working on topics related to WASH and youth (entrepreneurship).

WASH and youth employment are two key priorities of the national government, illustrated by the many initiatives undertaken. The innovation fits because it tackles these two challenges in parallel. At the same time, local government agencies, institutions and the private sector operating in the WASH value chain in Ghana are also expected to become the clients of services and products provided by the new WASH businesses (e.g. through establishing public-private partnerships).

The programme focuses on the creation of sustainable businesses that act across the WASH value chain which will rather seek to reduce pressure on the environment by for example reducing, reusing and recycling waste. The environmental aspects of setting up a business will be a central component in the training programme.

The training programme will include sessions around how to determine whether the product or service is appropriate, ensuring participants reflect on the financial and physical accessibility of products (and spare parts) needed and the extent to which the product or service can be accessed by different users (including illiterate people, persons with disabilities). Frugal innovation principles i.e. reducing the complexity and costs of producing products and services - will also be considered.

Youth unemployment in Ghana is a serious challenge. Out of necessity and lack of better options, the majority of youth – even those with a good education - are creating economic opportunities for themselves in the informal sector or by trying their luck abroad (as illustrated by the current migration surge). EnterWASH targets young women and men who are currently not benefiting from the opportunities available (e.g. due to financial constraints or lack of qualifications).

Overview of Goals

The intended effects (impact) are two-fold: 1) young people will be economically empowered and by extension, their families will benefit from greater financial support/freedom as well as their peers who become inspired about starting a business, and 2) healthier and cleaner communities through availability of WASH products and services will improve livelihoods, and makes people, especially those living in poverty more resilient. All this will have further positive effects for the economy.

Results and indicators

  • Organisations informed about EnterWASH and WASH entrepreneurship
    • Nr. of organisations 100 ( target )
    • Direct user - organisation 15 ( target )
  • Youth informed about EnterWASH programme and WASH entrepreneurship in general
    • Nr. of people 200 ( target )
    • Direct user - youth 40 ( target )
  • Youth selected for the EnterWASH programme
    • Nr. of participants 25 ( target )
  • Youth trained on WASH entrepreneurship
    • Nr. of direct users 20 ( target )
  • Youth received business support
    • Nr. of people 15 ( target )
  • Organisations in the WASH enterprise support network
    • Nr. of organisations in the network 15 ( target )
  • WASH entrepreneurship package developed
    • WASH entrepreneurship package developed 1 ( target )