-Will include 20 SMEs, 30 instructional staff implemented by MYS
The Ministry of Youth & Sports (MYS) has proposed three interventions to be implemented to provide employment for over 27, 000 Liberian youth in the most vulnerable communities across the country in order to lift them out of poverty.
“These interventions are the Youth Opportunities Project (YOP) funded by the World Bank; Youth Employment Entrepreneurship Project (YEEP) sponsored by the African Development Bank and the Liberia Employment and Entrepreneurship Program (LEEP) sponsored by the French Development Agency through Mercy Corps and MYS,” Youth & Sports Minister, D. Zeogar Wilson, said in a press release on Friday, December 7. He said the beneficiaries will include 20 Small and Medium Enterprises and 30 instructional staffs.
The third intervention is the Liberia Employment and Entrepreneurship Program (LEEP). According to Minister Wilson, the funding (5 million Euros) are from AFD and the implementing partner is Mercy Corps in collaboration with the Ministry of Youth and Sports.
Minister Wilson spoke Friday, Dec. 7, in the conference room of the Ministry of Youth & Sports. He took care to explain the processes in which the Ministry is religiously involved, to ensure that the three programs are sustained, after they are completed within their respective time frames.
In a power-point presentation of the National Youth Employment and Empowerment Program (NYEEP), Minister Wilson said the Project Development Objective (PDO) is to promote initiatives that increase employment opportunities for young Liberians with preferential options for poor and vulnerable youth.
He said the overall economic goal of the Government of Liberia is to transform the country from a least developed country status (country with the lowest indicators of socioeconomic development and lowest human development index rating) to a middle-income economy (a nation with a per capita gross national income between US$10,005 and US$12,235) by 2030.
In order to provide a platform for youth empowerment and employability, Minister Wilson said the government has been implementing various programs to alleviate poverty among its population, which have attracted wide national and international support and recognition. “And there are still gaps, despite these programs, characterized by the persistent existence of extremely poor and marginalized groups,” he noted.
He pointed out that Liberia’s growing population has exacerbated the high levels of unemployment, especially among the youth, and this has exerted extreme pressure on available resources and job opportunities.
“Some of the existing job opportunities, particularly in subsistence and the informal sector, require semi-skilled labor, which are of low economic value and pay. There is a mismatch between the rate at which jobs are created and most entrants in the labor market are the youth. “There is, therefore, a need for pragmatic, integrated and comprehensive interventions that would empower young people with opportunities for creation of their own enterprises thus contributing to the social economic transformation of the country,” he said.
The National Youth Employment and Empowerment Program, Minister Wilson said, is, therefore, designed to provide strategic and sustainable interventions for the youth, enabling them to effectively participate in national development and improve the quality of their lives. The program focuses on three components, namely entrepreneurship development and management, national youth voluntary service and the national cadet and internship program, he said, noting that the Youth Entrepreneurship Development component will target all categories of youth in Liberia, with specific focus on the poor and unemployed.
This component, he said, will be implemented under the guidance of the Ministry of Youth & Sports and financed initially by the Government of Liberia’s own resources (with a possibility of development partners’ support in the future). The initial budget estimate for the youth entrepreneurship development component is US$350.000 for 700 youth aged 18-35 who are expected to benefit from this component within two years of implementation.
He said funds will be advanced to the Youth Business Groups (YBG) under a Revolving Fund scheme or arrangement and under this scheme interested youth will be organized in groups of seven (7) individuals, conceptualize an enterprise and receive business a starter loan of between US $2,000 to US$3,500 to establish and manage their enterprise and repay the loan at an interest rate of 5%. “No interest will be levied if the group repays the loan value within 24 months, but repayment of the loan after 24 months will be charged 5% interest. Phase one of the roll out will be in 10 targeted communities for a period of 18 months and shall be scaled up to include other county capitals in subsequent years. The inclusion of a community will depend on the youth population and proximity to a large market,” Minister Wilson said.
There were interactive discussions between representatives of community-based organizations who were present. They expressed appreciation to the government, hoping that its interventions will be consistent with its overall development agenda for transformation and prosperity.