Innovation Fund





1.2 million young people enter the labour market each year, and more than 65% remain outside of employment, education, and training. Those young people who manage to access opportunities tend to zigzag on often broken pathways, falling in and out of education and short-term work, and are unable to realise their potential to meaningfully participate in the economy.  The Presidential Youth Employment Intervention is South Africa’s most comprehensive effort yet to address this crisis.


The National Pathway Management Network (NPMN) Innovation Fund (The Fund) is a grant initiative led by the National Department of Employment and Labour, under the auspices of the Presidential Youth Employment Intervention and administered by the IDC. This Fund seeks to identify and support innovative solutions to barriers faced by young people in meaningfully participating in the labour market and the wider economy. The Fund seeks to support innovative initiatives focused on resolving barriers related to the 3 key focus areas of the NPMN i.e., stimulating and aggregating demand, driving systems change to address barriers and linking young people to opportunities. This Fund will prioritise initiatives that unlock new earning opportunities for young people.



  • Challenges in finding niche areas in sectors where there are economic opportunities
  • Limited mechanisms within communities to identify earning opportunities in an on-going way within a geographic space
  • Weak institutional capacity and systems to help work seekers
  • Cost of looking for opportunities


The Fund supports both the piloting of new solutions and the scaling up of solutions that have been piloted and have proof of concept. An illustrative list of the type of innovations the Fund seeks to support is provided below.


Example of demand innovations (Stimulating and aggregating demand)


Some examples of demand innovations include: 

  • Mechanisms that can be put in place to identify and unlock new demand in local geographic areas (possibly intermediaries or aggregator platforms or other solutions)
  • Sustainable mechanisms that can be put in place to identify emerging demand at a national/sectoral level and determine plans to identify any barriers that young people may face in accessing this demand and to bring these employers into the network.
  • Ways that young people can be supported through the network to make their own money/ hustle or create micro-enterprises.
  • Ways to link individuals with SMEs and to link young people running SME’s (commercial and/or social) with relevant support and resources/ mechanisms.
  • Ways to improve the systems that enable young people to signal that they meet the requirements in ways that employers accept.
  • Further assisting young people to identify what learning/experience and skills they need to develop to access and secure income-generating opportunities.
  • Ways of incentivising community-based NGOs to pathway young people into further income earning beyond the interventions they provide.

In order to gain a better understanding of the application, Please read the Terms of Reference prior to completing your application.

Click here for the Fund Application Form.

Application closing date: 08 July 17H00


In addition to the below please refer to the Terms of Reference above.

Who can apply for funding?

Private sector companies, NPOs, PBOs, public sector entities

Can individuals apply for funding?


How will applicants apply for funding?

Submission via email of a completed application form to:
Hard copies delivered by hand will NOT be accepted.

What kind of projects will you fund?

Projects that introduce novel approaches and/or scale existing viable concepts that will connect young people to earning opportunities. The focus of the Fund is on supporting interventions that will stimulate demand for labour, reduce barriers that hinder labour market entry and facilitate links to appropriate opportunities.

How long will the process take?

It is anticipated that approved qualifying applicants will begin implementation during October 2024.

What is the maximum/minimum grant amount that may be applied for?

  • Maximum – R20 million
  • Minimum – R5 million

What evidence for reported numbers must be provided?

Approved entities will receive a reporting template which will amongst other indicators require the ID numbers and names of unemployed youth and where they were placed for employment.

What is meant by scaling the intervention?

This refers to increasing the size and reach of the initiative and consequently the impact it achieves.

In the application process, do you set up opportunities for collaborations with other applicants or current projects?

Yes, collaborations are encouraged.

How will the Government monitor the money paid to projects and ensure that there is no misuse or mismanagement?

IDC as the appointed manager for the programme will conduct the necessary monitoring and evaluations and audits as required by the programme.

Will there be an emphasis on regions or provinces in South Africa where unemployment is particularly high, or will applications from all areas be considered equally?

Spatial equity is a principle that the programme will adhere to, and preference will be given to those applications that promote spatial equity, especially ability to reach vulnerable young people in rural areas.

Are there restrictions on how the funding is used?

Only Applications aligned to the programme will be considered for approval. Therefore, approved applicants will be required to implement their proposals as submitted and contracted.

What are the penalties for non-performance?

Termination of the contract.

Do you link unsuccessful applications with other funding instruments?

If applications are impactful and innovative and there are avenues to guide unsuccessful applications to, the IDC may assist therein.

What is the process and timing of disbursements?

The intention is to contract by October 2024 and commence disbursements closely thereafter. Disbursements will be in tranches and aligned to the implementation profile of the proposal’s business plan.

Will youth with disabilities be prioritised?

Preference will be given to applications promoting earning opportunities for young people with disabilities and female young people.

Will non-South African youth be able to participate?



Contact Details: For further information, please email