The Youth Employment Secretariat on Wednesday launched the Youth Enterprise Development Project at the National Stadium Presidential Lounge in Freetown.
In his statement the director of youth, Anthony A Koroma, gave a background about the project. He explained that the project originated from the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP).
“When the PRSP was prepared we went to England, the government through the minister of Youth and Sports Dr Dennis Bright, appealed to donors to come to the rescue of young people in Sierra Leone in terms of employment,” he explained.
“When we came back”, he continued, “with the support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), development partners and the government of Sierra Leone we were able to setup a steering committee which was chaired by Vice President Berewa.”
Mr Koroma noted that the committee then established the Youth Employment Strategy which was launched on 9 October 2006.
This, he explained, gave birth to the Youth Employment Scheme (YES) where donors contributed funds into YES’ basket fund.
In the YES basket fund, the director of youth averred, “…the Peace Building Commission (PBC) contributed $ 9 million for youth programmes,” adding that “… this particular project which is the Youth Enterprise Development project cost $ 4 million and it is targeting about 15,000 youth which would be working with the private sector.”
The private sector, Mr Koroma explained, would employ these youth and support them with skill training and microfinance, noting that the microfinance was meant for those who were engaged in trade and do have intention to expand their business.
Another aspect of the project, he emphasized, “is to train the youth those who are uneducated or lack skills and cannot be employed, we will arrange with the ministry of education and other training institutions to admit them for a year for training, after the training, the microfinance would grant them credit which would be used as a seed money to start up a small business.”
This project, the youth director explained “is just the first step in addressing youth issues as stated in the PRSP.”
Speaking about how youth could access this scheme, he stated that, “if they organize themselves in small groups and write project proposals and forward them to the district appraisal committees which we are going to setup in all the districts they would surely benefit from the scheme.”
“For now we have district appraisal committees in Bo, Makeni and Kenema you can go to the MYS office and talk with the officials and present your project and we would receive it in Freetown,” Mr Koroma said.
The youth director explained that not every project would be funded but however assured that, “we would ensure that we fund project in each and every district.”
Speaking about monitoring, evaluation and sustainability, Mr Koroma reechoed “…first and foremost we have established a secretariat with the help of UNDP we have recruited staff and also expecting four more international staff; we also have offices in the provinces.”
“We are also working with UNDP and the UN Transitional Support Team which is present in every district is helping us in monitoring these projects.
The youth director accentuated that, “we do not implement project directly we have Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and other agencies which implements project.”
These agencies, he explained, had their own monitoring systems which they monitored as well.
In this first step, Mr Koroma highlighted, “we have about 20 agencies 11 doing fuel wood, 5 microfinance institutions, Sea Board Welfare, Miracle Scholars of the World, GTZ and many more.”
“The sum received by these agencies depends on their project, some received Le 400 million and for the microfinance who would be giving out credit received Le2.2 billion which would be distributed to four microfinance institutions to give loans to youth nationwide,” he stressed.
Launching the Youth Enterprise Development Project, the minister of Youth and Sports Dr Dennis Bright commended the youth employment secretariat for giving their best even with the little resource they had at their disposal.