Market vendors at their stalls in Africa.

Employment and Growth

Our investments increase employment and economic opportunities for women and youth.

The Employment and Growth program seeks to enhance the employment and economic opportunities of vulnerable groups, particularly women and youth.

Economic progress in developing and emerging economies has been strong, but significant challenges remain. Unemployment and precarious jobs are on the rise in many regions. Inequalities are unacceptably high, youth are marginalized, and women face economic, social, and cultural challenges that limit their access to markets, quality jobs, and entrepreneurship. This in turn holds back whole economies.

The Employment and Growth program is committed to promoting inclusive economies by enhancing the employment and economic opportunities of vulnerable groups. Programming will focus on solutions that remove barriers to women’s economic empowerment, policy and practice that prepare youth effectively for employment, and new business and financing models that combine profit motives with better economic opportunities, particularly for vulnerable groups.

The program will support applied research on gender, particularly in low-income and fragile contexts and in Francophone West Africa, to address the complex set of barriers holding back women’s economic empowerment. It will foster new ideas for providing youth with more promising prospects than the informal, subsistence activities on which so many depend. And it will support the knowledge and the leaders that help bring such efforts to scale, broker relationships between private companies, businesses associations, non-profits, and public agencies, and include the poor as producers, suppliers, consumers, and workers.

The program focuses on two key objectives:

  • Find solutions that remove barriers to women’s economic empowerment 
  • Secure economic opportunities for young people

Learn more


The Employment and Growth program funds research exclusively through competitive calls. Announcements and details on eligibility and thematic focus for funding opportunities will be posted on IDRC’s funding page.


The UK Department for International Development, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation

Explore research projects that we support.


  • Mylène Bordeleau

    What does the economic future look like for young Ivorians?

    Following a decade of military conflict and a political stalemate, Côte d'Ivoire is experiencing an economic upturn, with Gross Domestic Product growth estimated at 8% in 2017. The country hopes to regain its role as an economic driver in...

    Mylene Bordeleau
  • Martha Melese

    Expanding women’s financial inclusion: A win-win for women and financial institutions

    Rose, an astute and driven business woman runs a “table banking” operation in the heart of Nairobi. An extension of the traditional village savings and loan associations, “table banking” has gained popularity among poor women in Kenya. Women get...

    Martha Melesse, Jemimah Njuki
  • Arjan de Haan

    Inclusive growth: Buzzword or innovation?

    When the world's richest eight people hold as much wealth as the bottom 50 per cent of the global population, we have a problem. That disparity, highlighted in a recent Oxfam report, brings into sharp focus an issue of growing inequality that...

    Arjan de Haan

Publications and resources

Through books, articles, research publications, and studies, we aim to widen the impact of our investment and advance development research.

Fostering Inclusive Growth

Learn from international experts in this video what inclusive growth means and what the World Economic Forum and IDRC are doing about it.