SPARK develops higher education and entrepreneurship to empower young, ambitious people to lead their conflict affected societies into prosperity.
SPARK is determined to increase the number of sustainable jobs and economic prospects for youth in post-conflict regions through the improvement of higher education and the development of the local private sector.
SPARK believes that sustainable economic growth is essential for establishing self-reliance and thereby poverty alleviation. Creating jobs for youth in conflict affected societies and enabling an environment for youth to improve their socioeconomic position, are central in this vision. Through job creation SPARK aims to diminish the potential for conflict, giving special attention to marginalised groups, including women, returning refugees and IDPs.
Founded in 1993, SPARK is an independent international development organisation with about 80 staff members in offices in South-east Europe, Middle-East and Africa. SPARK focuses on youth, between 18-35 years, equipping them with knowledge, tools and motivation that allow them to play a unique role in leading their conflict affected societies into prosperity.
SPARK Solutions & Services have been developed to achieve our mission. They contain private sector development approaches with conflict sensitivity dimensions that can be realized for, or in cooperation with, clients and (local) partners. Potential entrepreneurs, startups and small businesses each require specific support services and solutions to successfully develop, start or expand their business.
SPARK Solutions focus on developing Business Startup Centres, Startup Finance and Faculty Enrichment. SPARK Services contain a wide variety of trainings for entrepreneurs and local partners, curriculum development for schools and universities, organising a youth academy for entrepreneurs, setting up business plan competitions and more.
SPARK field offices are established in regions that are grappling with the complex effects of recent conflicts, including high levels of unemployment and limited educational opportunities for their people. Many of these people do not have resources to contribute to effective and sustainable economic growth of their fragile societies. Out of work, idle, with little invested in the future, are common socioeconomic conditions that risk pushing people toward criminal activity, and re-invoking social unrest.
SPARK does not just focus on individual entrepreneurs, but aims to reinforce and increase capacity building of local economic and educational institutions. The final goal is for local partners and institutions to have the tools to offer the solutions and services themselves.
We work closely with a wide range of local partners including chambers of commerce, universities, vocational schools, governments (both local and foreign), business institutions and civil society organisations – to build cooperative, locally-sustainable networks of support for promising entrepreneurs.
The demands of the local community are central in order to pinpoint the needs and priorities of young entrepreneurs. SPARK promotes local ownership of projects and focuses on wide impact, linking local, regional and international partners – all of which are essential for continuing support beyond SPARK’s presence.
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