Determined to change the economic fortunes of Liberia, the Government through the Ministry of Youth and Sports and the Liberia Agency for Community Empowerment (LACE) on Monday, May 27, 2019, commenced an ambitious recruitment exercise for at least 1,500 youths in Montserrado County and its environs.
The targeted new communities include Doe Community, Slipway, Jamaica Road, Old and New Matadi, Topoe’s Village, New Kru Town, Central and Upper Caldwell, and Bong Mine Bridge.
Others are Tweh Farm, New Georgia Estate, Police Academy, Soul Clinic, Chicken Soup Factory, Pipeline A&B, and Duport Road. These communities were selected on the basis of their high vulnerable youth population and proximity to large market or commercial activities outlets.
The initiative, which is a sub-component of the Youth Opportunities Project and round-two of the Household Enterprise Support (HES) activities, will provide business start-up grants for youth and life-skills training to select beneficiaries to properly manage their own businesses.
Youth and Sports Minister D. Zeogar Wilson, who led a team of delegation to various recruitment centers, said the initiative is part of the government’s plan to help create an enabling environment for young people between the ages of 18-35 and to create their own revenue through household enterprise and agriculture-related activities.
Minister Wilson said the HHE would be government’s primary vehicle for supporting start-ups and small businesses for younger people in the country.
He added that the World Bank to the tone of US$10 million is sponsoring the project. Wilson commended the World Bank for the support, which he noted would go a long way for the young people of Liberia and the benefiting communities.
He said the plan would enable new businesses to emerge and give them the space to grow, receive financing and business development services, secure markets during the critical formative years, and to tap into a wide supply chain and network during their growth years, helping to create jobs at a widely distributed, national level.
When enrolled, Minister Wilson said the beneficiaries will receive Life and Business Management Skills training as well as apprenticeship in Carpentry, Electronics Retail and Repair, Plumbing, Electricity, Tailoring, Interior Decoration, Bricks Making and Sales, Cellphone Repair, among several others.
“The beneficiaries, upon completing apprenticeship training, will be organized in business groups of 4-8 members and given financial grants to establish and operate their group business as means of generating income to cater to their needs and livelihoods,” he said.
According to him, by December 2020, a total of 3,000 youth in 25 communities in Monrovia and its environs are expected to benefit from this sub-component of the Youth Opportunities Project. Last year, 800 youth were recruited and enrolled in the project for the first round of HES, and they are currently supported to run their group businesses.
LACE Technical Team Manager, Mohammed Nasser further noted that the project is placed into several components but LACE is focused on two components to include: The Household enterprise and the Productive, Public Works and life skills support.
After the transparent lottery process, Nasser said the beneficiaries will be selected and they will go through three-week youth orientation training by the service provider Education Care. After the training, the group will be divided into eight and each group will receive US$2,500 as a start-up.
At the completion of the training, Education Care, the service provider, will identify the line of businesses for the beneficiaries and will place them in a group of eight and subsequently work with them for its effective establishment.
Meanwhile, the project has an overall target of 15,000 vulnerable youth, nationwide. Currently, over 7,000 rural youth are benefiting agricultural support through tools, farming materials, small grants, and technical support from the YOP. The project will shortly begin providing job readiness training, health and hygiene awareness, and social support to another group of young Liberians seeking guidance to start a career and live a better life.