First Lady Clar Weah Launches Youth Empowerment Project

First Lady Clar Weah and Mercy Corps directors with students at the launch of the Youth Employment Project

Rémy Rioux, Chief Executive Officer of Agence Française de Dévelopement (AFD) and First Lady Clar Weah on Wednesday, November 28, launched the Youth Empowerment Project (YEP), a two component initiative aimed at providing enhanced training and employment opportunities for youth.

The YEP, which is Supported by AFD, will be implemented in partnership with the Mercy Corps, a non-governmental organization, and the Felix Houphouet-Boigny National Polytechnic Institute (INP-HB) of Yamoussoukro, La Cote d’Ivoire, thus giving it an important regional dimension.

The first component, the Liberia Employment and Entrepreneurship Program (LEEP), increases employment opportunities and entrepreneurship of Liberian youths.

According to Mercy Corps release, the second component of the project, will comprise a regional system of access to higher technical education within the Mano River Union where students will continue their studies at the INP-HB, an institution that provides top-notch training for technicians and engineers. It is already developing ways to welcome international students from Africa (Guineans, Sierra Leoneans and South Africans).

With a total cost of five million euros, the YEP is expected to ultimately support almost 11,000 young people between the ages of 18 to 35 years (50 percent of them girls) in their careers, providing funding for 15 companies, and grants at least 40 scholarships towards the acquisition of a professional license from the INP-HB.

With regards to the implementation, LEEP relies on the involvement of Youth Opportunity Centers, already supported by Mercy Corps; a partner on this project that will support the setup of additional Youth Centers in Grand Bassa and Margibi Counties.

The project also foresees the creation of a youth investment fund to finance the micro enterprises of the beneficiaries (after a competitive selection), and the establishment of partnerships with existing incubators to make available a seed fund, providing start-up capital for innovative initiatives led by the private sector.

The YEP was launched at the Paynesville City Hall.

About AFD in Liberia

From 2012 to 2018, France supported health sector in Liberia with US$3.9 million grant to buy medicines and to finance capacity building of the national drugs suppliers.

In 2018, AFD supported Liberia with two grants: five million euros budget support already fully disbursed, and another five million euros for this youth employment project. During its visit in Liberia, the CEO of AFD was received by the President of Liberia George Weah.

He  signed a memorandum of understanding confirming AFD’s support to the Pro-poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development  approved by the government for the period 2018-2023.


  1. A wise person once said, “Nations have recently been led to borrow billions for war; but no nation has ever borrowed largely for education.”

    Educational programs gear towards preparing Liberian youths in specialized technical skills are greatly needed for technical employment. It’s highly commendable to all those who were instrumental, including the First Lady Clar Weah, in bringing such vital program to educate the youths of Liberia.

    These highly technical initiatives or training would help close the high unemployment gaps that are mostly in highly specialized technical fields. Many multinationals (foreign companies) operating in Liberia are sometimes forced to hire foreign workers with the requisite technical skills due to the shortage of technically skilled Liberian workers.

    However, this Youth Empowerment Project should also be strategically located around the country to serve other youths living in the North, South, East, West and Central parts of Liberia…..thus giving them equal opportunities to these valuable skills.

    Again, to speedily move Liberia’s reconstruction forward, more emphases need to be put on technical education by establishing more technical colleges &universities, more polytechnic high schools, and more two-year post-secondary technical Institutes. Also, to speed up reconstruction, more scholarships should be given to Liberian youths to study abroad in specialized technical education.

    This strategy is similar to what the late Deng Xiaoping implemented in China when he launched his famous “China Modernization Policy”. Deng Xiaoping emphasized technical education in China when he came into power in 1978. He sent many Chinese students to study modern technology in the West.

    Today, Deng Xiaoping farsighted policies have paid off. China is modernized with a booming economy in just over 35 years since his policies were implemented.

    As Deng Xiaoping would say, “It doesn’t matter if a cat is black or white, so long as it catches mice.”

    Liberia too can do the same if we really want to modernize like China!!


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