The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) and the Government of Kiribati signed the MCC-Kiribati Threshold Programme Monday designed to spur economic growth and reduce poverty for I-Kiribati.

The US$29.1 million grant, developed in partnership with the Government of Kiribati, is the largest direct grant investment in Kiribati by the United States to date.

The partnership was formaliSed at the U.S Department of State during the U.S-Pacific Islands Forum Summit.

The grant agreement was witnessed by U.S Secretary of State Antony Blinken and signed by MCC CEO Alice Albright and the President of Kiribati Taneti Maamau. The MCC-Kiribati Threshold Programme aims to address the country’s biggest constraint to economic growth – low participation in international labour mobility. I-Kiribati under the age of 25 comprise more than half the country’s population and more than 50 percent are unemployed due to geographical and economic challenges.

Through partnerships with the Kiribati Ministries of Employment and Human Resource and Education, and in collaboration with the International Labour Organisation and the American Councils for International Education, the programme will launch several targeted youth employment and training opportunities to prepare young I-Kiribati for the economy of the future.

“MCC is proud of this innovative programme and what it represents – not only an investment in the I-Kiribati people, but the United States’ broader commitment to the Pacific Islands,” said MCC CEO Alice Albright.

“People are the most important asset of any country, and we hope our partnership with the Government of Kiribati will empower the next generation with the capabilities and skills they need to thrive.”

The MCC-Kiribati programme will also focus on strengthening the rights and resilience of I-Kiribati workers and creating safe, accessible, decent, and inclusive employment opportunities.

“Capitalising on our human resources through strengthened international labour mobility is the cornerstone of Kiribati’s long term development aspirations enshrined in the Kiribati Vision, the KV20,” said Kiribati Employment and Human Resource Minister Taabeta Teakai.

“The signing of the MCC grant agreement marks an important milestone by both governments and Kiribati is looking forward to the implementation stage and a long-term partnership. On behalf of the people and the Government of Kiribati, I wish to convey our sincere gratitude to the U.S Government for this new investment.”

The programmes funded under the MCC-Kiribati Threshold Programme represent the agency’s first international labour mobility investment and aim to:

Improve the Ministry of Employment and Human Resource administrative capabilities to increase market and sector opportunities for I-Kiribati workers, connect under-represented groups to employment, and strengthen the link between skills acquisition and employability.

Expand support for I-Kiribati workers and their families as they search for, and secure, overseas employment through the Ministry of Employment and Human Resource. Create experiential growth opportunities and fundamental employment skills for Kiribati high school students.

The Millennium Challenge Corporation is an independent U.S government agency working to reduce global poverty through economic growth. Created in 2004, MCC provides time-limited grants and assistance to countries that meet rigorous standards for good governance, fighting corruption and respecting democratic rights.