Skip to main content
International Partnerships

Empowering civil society organisations and ethnic minority youth to participate in decision making

Two H’mong young women hand-embroider a product for tourists in the community eco-tourism model in Kien Thanh commune, Yen Bai province.
Two H’mong young women hand-embroider a product for tourists in the community eco-tourism model in Kien Thanh commune, Yen Bai province
© Save the Children

The project “PARTICIPATE: Empowered CSOs and ethnic minority youth for active participation in decision making in Yen Bai, Vietnam” aims to support Vietnamese civil society organisations (CSOs) to increase their capacity to address youth issues, and promote youth rights and participation. This helps young people from ethnic minorities through strengthened networks and a favourable environment that promotes youth empowerment in governance and development processes.


The capacity of local CSOs to promote youth participation and their rights remains limited in Vietnam. There are very few CSOs actively engaging in local governance and community development. This is partly because they haven’t received sufficient support from the local government and community, and haven’t had the chance to develop themselves to become agents of change to provide support for vulnerable ethnic minority youth.

Ethnic minority youth in Yen Bai have limited life skills, which makes it difficult for them to find quality employment. In Tran Yen District, only 27% out of about 12,000 youth workers were officially trained (Tran Yen Youth Union report, 2018). The main reasons for youth unemployment in the project area are related to the lack of opportunities, skills and networks supporting youth. Moreover, poverty is a key factor preventing young people from obtaining the resources needed to start-up their own activities and become economically empowered.

Project activities

Save the Children and the Center for Sustainable Development of Mountainous Communities (SUDECOM), along with other partners in the Yen Bai province, implemented the EU-PARTICIPATE project to support ethnic minority youth between the ages of 16 and 24.

The plan for intervention was developed from a project baseline survey, and labour market and youth capacity assessment. Key project activities included training for local CSOs and young people on life skills for success, gender equality, labour market analysis, development of a start-up plan, management of start-up projects, risk reduction management and supply chains linkage. Interested local youth were guided on the development and submission of social and start-up proposals. Then, qualified proposals were selected to receive financial support based on key criteria of problem analysis, feasibility, impact, cost-effectiveness, human capacity, sustainability, creativity and adaptation. There was capacity building in leadership and and active participation in the local community for ethnic minority youth, which increased their engagement in the decision-making process at local level.

The project contributed to local socio-economic development through the implementation of 22 youth-led projects, including 18 start-ups and 4 social-focused projects. 


After three years of operation in 9 communes of Tran Yen district, Yen Bai province, the EU-PARTICIPATE project has provided supported to more than 1,000 ethnic minority youth to participate in capacity building activities in entrepreneurship, contributing to local socio-economic development and promoting gender equality.

Support given by the project in terms of funding, technique, marketing, connecting resources and supply chains has been a great success. With equipped capacities, CSOs in Yen Bai have confidently affirmed that they are ready to support and accompany young people in the future. Stories of career development journeys of local ethnic minority youth have inspired and spread confidence in start-up development among young people in Tran Yen district and Yen Bai province.

A collection of material documenting processes used in the project has been produced. The products are highly appreciated by local governments to replicate good practices in the implementation of local youth support programmes.

Some key results

  • 100% of CSO staff and 62% of ethnic minority youth participated in decision-making process through related meetings and workshops
  • 8 out of 10 young people participating in a survey think that they will continue to apply the knowledge and skills learned from the project
  • 100% of initiatives will be able to continue and develop after the project ends
  • 98% of local youth received useful support from local CSOs to discuss and decide youth-related issues
  • 64% of team leaders of youth initiative groups are females
  • 100% of youth-led initiatives applied practices and solutions relating to environmental protection
  • 70 young people have been appointed to positions in local socio-political organisations
  • Local CSOs are playing a very active role in supporting youth to participate in and raise their voices in key decision-making meetings with local authorities to discuss and decide on issues related to local socio-economic development

Related links

Dreaming of a start-up from the fields of Vietnam