Step Up – Improving labour market access for unemployed

Nepal faces enormous employment challenges that were exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic. Difficulties to find gainful employment for the unemployed include lack of information on jobs and business opportunities, appropriate skills and access to networks and support services such as career guidance or counselling. In addition, business support services that provide entrepreneurs with services to start, sustain and improve their businesses are weak or even missing. The project aims to address these deficiencies in the current employment ecosystem and contribute to the Government of Nepal’s efforts to increase job creation and the employability of its labour force.
Biratnagar, Nepal
Budhiganga, Nepal
Project duration
2021 - 2024

The Project

The Step Up project improves existing support services in the employment ecosystem and facilitates entrepreneurship and self-employment in thriving economic clusters.

 To this end, it provides capacity building of existing public and private labour market insertion providers, especially regarding the provision of timely and relevant information on job, business, and demand-based training opportunities.

To improve jobseekers’ access to entrepreneurship and self-employment opportunities the project strengthens business platforms and networks such as the Chambers of Commerce and industry associations. With their networks and industry-based knowledge, they can support jobseekers to seize self-employment and entrepreneurship opportunities within thriving economic sectors.

Lastly, the project strengthens business development support services and business incubators that help entrepreneurs to start, improve and sustain their businesses.

The project aims to benefit jobseekers in the project areas with a particular focus on women, returned migrants and those who have lost their jobs due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Project Goals

  1. Public and private labour market insertion service providers deliver more effective services.
  2. Training providers offer demand-based trainings that increase the employability of the unemployed.
  3. Local business platforms provide technical knowledge and market information to jobseekers and support them to seize self-employment and entrepreneurship opportunities within thriving economic sectors.
  4. Entrepreneurship support service providers effectively support micro, small and medium enterprises to start, sustain and scale up their businesses.

 Project Partners

  • Public and private labour market insertion service providers
  • Training service providers
  • Chamber of commerce and industry associations
  • Business development service providers

Expected Results

  • 4 500 jobseekers (50% women) access improved labour market insertion services.
  • 930 people (50% women) are wage-employed, self-employed or take up entrepreneurial activities and increase their income.
  • 150 jobs are created.

Financing partner

The StepUp project is financed by the Happel Foundation, among other donors. It is part of the Swisscontact Development Programme, which is co-financed by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), Federal Department of Foreign Affairs FDFA. 


Labour market insertion
Transforming Labour Markets
In 2023, Nepal saw economic improvements, including a surplus in the balance of payments, increased foreign currency reserves and tourist arrivals, among others. Despite these positive indications, the Economic Survey for Fiscal Year 2022-23 reported a modest 2.16 percent economic growth rate. To boost growth, the government introduced the Digital Nepal Framework (DNF), aimed at enhancing digital literacy and advancing adoption of technology across the economy. The DNF comprises eight categories - digital foundation, agriculture, health, education, energy, tourism, finance, and urban infrastructure.  
Labour market insertion
Biratnagar Metropolitan Hosts its First-Ever Employment Fair in Collaboration with the Step Up Project
In the Koshi Province of eastern Nepal, the Biratnagar-Itahari corridor is a thriving economic hub witnessing promising growth in entrepreneurship and small business ventures. Despite its potential, the region faces significant unemployment challenges due to limited awareness about existing job openings and their prerequisites. To bridge the gap, Mayor Nagesh Koirala and Deputy Mayor Shilpa Nirala Karki of Biratnagar metropolitan recently led one notable initiative by organising a Metropolitan Employment Fair in collaboration with the Step Up project from March 15 to 16.
Sustainable agriculture, Labour market insertion
Facilitating Investment in Agriculture – How Swisscontact in Nepal is Helping Agribusinesses Grow and Scale 
Agriculture remains important in Nepal's economy. However, there are numerous challenges in attracting investment in the sector, resulting in relatively low investment compared to other sectors. Access to markets, firm capabilities, access to finance, and business linkages are some of the key constraints impeding investment and growth of agribusinesses.  

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