The issue of economic exclusion is a stark one: The number of unemployed youth globally is estimated at 71 million, with most regions recording a youth unemployment rate twice as high. Of the youth worldwide who are working, 16 percent of these 15 to 24-year olds fall into the category of “working poor.” Among the world’s marginalized are women—with over 40 percent remaining outside of the formal financial system.

Through its economic inclusion portfolio, AKF aims to improve the economic well-being of women and men, particularly youth. Because small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) generate 50 percent of employment worldwide, AKF focuses on increasing employment and self-employment, building the conditions for SMEs to thrive, increasing productivity and income from producers and businesses, and enhancing access to affordable and useful financial products. AKF is also focused on increasing access to renewable energy, as 1.4 billion people have no access to electricity, a prerequisite to business development.

Our goals

A woman wears gloves while decorating cupcakes

Increased employment and self-employment

Through training, skills workshops, and connecting people to businesses

closeup of hands stretching wool for spinning into yarn

Increased productivity and income

For producers and businesses to enhance self-reliance

a man operates a powersaw connected to an electrical access point on a pole

Increased access to renewable energy

To enable more efficient working practices, freeing up time and energy

closeup of two sets of hands exchanging currency

Enhanced access to financial products

that are affordable, useful, and enable economic growth

Our impact


disadvantaged rural youth accessed AKF-supported job training programs—with 70% securing employment


savings groups supported by AKF worldwide


people worldwide benefitted from AKF’s clean energy interventions, most of whom reside in off-grid communities

Program spotlight

Accelerate Prosperity

Inspiring rising entrepreneurs
in emerging regions.

A new global initiative that is a result of a partnership between AKF and the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development (AKFED), Accelerate Prosperity provides technical expertise, creative financing solutions and market connections for small and growing businesses, and in so doing creates sustainable employment, and strengthens communities.
Ongoing since 2018

Focus Areas

Focus Areas