The annual conference is the only event worldwide that focuses on job creation for youth, women and refugees living in emerging economies. The organisers from the Dutch international development NGO, SPARK, chose this year’s theme – Reimagine Jobs – because of what they call the multiple, intersectional problems facing youth today.

“The climate crisis, COVID-19 and the digital revolution are dramatically changing the jobs we have and the way we work. The IGNITE conference brings together stakeholders from across the world’s most fragile regions to discuss how the most vulnerable people – youth, refugees, women – can stay included in the global economy,” says Simon van Melick, Programme Manager at SPARK and founder of the IGNITE conference.

Keynote speakers
The event’s spectacular venue, the Muziekgebouw, which overlooks Amsterdam’s IJ River, will this year play host to over 400 experts and stakeholders involved in youth employment, entrepreneurship and higher education. Main stage panellists and keynote speakers include (among others):

  • Mrs. Birgitta Tazelaar, Deputy Director-General International Cooperation at the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs;
  • Mr. Raouf Mazou, UNHCR’s Assistant High Commissioner for Operations;
  • Mr. Alessandro Villa, Deputy Head of Unit at the Directorate-General for International Partnerships for Central Asia and Middle East, European Commission;
  • Mr. Raed AlSaleh, General Manager of the White Helmets, Syria;
  • Mrs. Irvine Floreal Muramea, Founder and Managing Director of INFINITY Group, Burundi;
  • Mr. Rowan Barnett, Head of Google.org Europe, Middle East and Africa;
  • Mrs. Sonia Ben Jafaar, CEO of Abdulla Al Ghurair Foundation for Education, UAE;
  • Prof. Alexander Betts, Professor of Forced Migration and International Affairs, and Senior Fellow in Politics at Brasenose College at the University of Oxford, UK;
  • Mr. Mossadeck Bally, Founder and CEO of Azalaï Hotels Group, West Africa.

Funders and philanthropies
Over 20 global funders and philanthropies are expected to join the event, including the European Union, ENABLE (the Belgian Development Agency) and Google.org. With event partners including the IKEA Foundation, Islamic Development Bank, Qatar Fund for Development, Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, International Finance Corporation and the DIHAD Humanitarian Foundation, the IGNITE conference promises to bring together stakeholders from both public and private sector, Europe and the Gulf, and bridge political divides in order to discuss the important issue of jobs for youth.

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Workshops, a startup competition and networking
The one-day conference, which is open to all and will be live streamed, also features over 12 breakout workshops on a range of subjects, including green entrepreneurship, digital skills for refugees, fintech for financial inclusion, and digitalisation for SMEs, remote work, gender-inclusive entrepreneurship and localisation. A live startup competition will see ten entrepreneurs from Palestine, Iraq and Lebanon pitch on stage for the chance to win up to $10,000 to start their businesses. Finally, attendees will have numerous opportunities to network with other guests coming from at least 25 different countries.

Platform for youth and local organisations
Writing on social media, Nowar Rahmouni, a Syrian entrepreneur and former participant of SPARK’s programmes living in Lebanon, writes: “So excited to speak in such incredible conference as one of the Stichting SPARK speakers. What a great opportunity to attend the #iginte9 #ReimagineJobs”. In order to advocate for more inclusive and sustainable economic development for the future, the IGNITE conference makes a strong effort to provide youth and local organisations with a platform to share their opinions and experiences directly with key policy-makers, NGOs and donors.

For full details about the IGNITE conference and to register for tickets, visit: igniteamsterdam.com