“Pro-Poor Agenda at Work”

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Min. Wilson
Minister D. Zeogar Wilson/Youth Organizations, Student Leaders and Youth from various Communities

The Liberian government, through the Ministry of Youth and Sports, has embarked on a series of interventions, aimed at developing thousands of youth across the country, in line with the Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development s(PAPD}.

Presenting the National Youth Employment and Empowerment Program (NYEEP) plan for Liberia at a consultative meeting with youth groups on Friday, December 7, 2018, Youth and Sports Minister, D. Zeogar Wilson, named such interventions as: Youth Opportunity Project (YOP), Youth Employment and Entrepreneurship Project (YEEP) and Liberia Employment and Entrepreneurship Program (LEEP).

YOP, a project funded with US$10 million loan from the World Bank, will directly benefit 15,000 targeted youth, aged 15–35 years over a five-year period.

Ten thousand youth are expected to graduate from the project by the end of 2019. Targeted youth are those who meet certain levels of vulnerability, owing to their poverty status as would be determined through a set of eligibility criteria.

The project will seek to ensure an overall 50/50 participation ratio for male and female beneficiaries across Liberia.

YOP’s components include Pre-employment Social Support and Household Enterprises for Urban Youth, Productive Public Works and Life Skills Support, Capacity and Systems Building for Cash Transfers and Project Implementation and Coordination.

About 2,000 vulnerable youth, aged 15-17 years, in Monrovia will benefit from job-readiness skills training under the Pre-Employment Social Support sub-component.

The focus will be on: Job Readiness Training, Social Support Training Health and Hygiene Training, and Financial Education Training. This Sub-component is expected to start in January 2019.

Also, 3,000 vulnerable youth, aged 18-35 years, in Monrovia will benefit from Household Enterprises sub-component of the project.

The objective is to increase labor productivity of youth working in household enterprises. The sub-component will focus on assisting selected youth to establish their small businesses in a group of e in the eight communities. A group of eight will receive US$2,400.00 to start their business. They will be closely monitored by a service provider to ensure success.

Ten thousand youth, aged 18-35 years, in rural communities in the 15 counties will be provided life skills training, simple farming tools and implements, technical agriculture support, as well as labor subsidy to engage in communal farming (food production) under the Productive Public Works & Life Skills Training subcomponent.  Under the Training component, each youth will receive a total of US$300.00 as labor subsidy within 18 an-month cycle.

Under the Pre-employment Social Support sub-component, hiring of Service Provider to support implementation for this component is underway and is expected to be concluded by December 2018.

According to the Minister, recruitment of beneficiaries will commence March 2019. Owing to the specialized nature of the services to be provided the youth, especially in the area of psychosocial support, the Project Management Team has embarked on a rigorous process to recruit the needed service provider.

For the Household Enterprises Support sub-component, the project has recruited and provided business skills training to 800 youth in 10 communities in Monrovia for the first round of implementation, the youth have all completed business plans in groups of eight and the launch of subprojects (implementation of small businesses by the youth) took place on September 27, 2018. A total of US$240,000 would be provided directly to 100 youth enterprises, wish started on December 4, 2018. 

Commenting on the Productive Public Works and Life Skills Support component, Minister Wilson said they have recruited 3,612 youth to engage in farming activities in 128 communities nationwide for the first round of implementation, hired 14 Service Providers (local NGOs) at the county level to provide technical support to the youth farming groups of 28 youth per group, and Farming groups have cultivated a total of 4,109 acres of food crop out of 4,515 acres targeted for this farming season in round one.

He further explained that labor subsidies in the amount of $150 per person has been disbursed to all the 3,612 youths totaling $541,800.00 and completed the recruitment of another set of 3,612 youth in 128 communities across the country for round two implementation.

The Youth and Sports Minister noted that, under the Capacity and Systems Building for Cash Transfers Component, So far, the basic design for a National Household Social Registry has been developed and a unit to manage the registry has also been set up at the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection and further support for work under this component will be complimented by the Liberia Social Safety Nets Project under the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection.

Next Step for 2019 will be to recruit and provide job-readiness skills to 500 youths in Monrovia under Pre-Employment Support, recruit and provide skills training and cash grants to an additional 1,200 youths in Monrovia under Support to Household Enterprises, provide tools, agro-inputs and labor subsidies to 3,612 youth nation-wide under Productive Public Works for round two implementation, as well as additional financing of 3.5 million Euros from the Swedish Government and additional financing of 5 Million Euros from the French Government toward YOP.

The Youth Employment and Entrepreneurship Project (YEEP) is a three-year project funded by the African Development Bank (AFDB). The US$2.4 million project targets 2,700 youths,  20 SMEs, 30 instructional staff and 40 new businesses, in Montserrado, Margibi and Nimba with its targeted institutions a: University of Liberia, Nimba County Community College (NCCC) in Nimba County and Booker Washington Institute (BWI) in Margibi County.

The Minister said the YEEP project aims at promoting youth entrepreneurship through improving their business skills, and improve youth employability by empowering them with relevant skills required by the job market.

It targets youths and instructional staff in tertiary level institutions to pilot a model that can be replicated and scaled up once tested.

\Project Development Outcomes: The project is expected to: expand businesses started by young people, increase employment and income of young people and establish innovative and sustainable programs on youth entrepreneurship and employment in Liberia.

Specifically, this project will create 40 new sustainable businesses of which at least 40% will be women owned, support at least 20 SMEs to expand their businesses, support and build capacity of at least 300 youth to find permanent jobs, expose over 2,400 students to job market information and skills requirements for employment through career guidance awareness workshops and will also develop capacities of learning institutions to improve their ability to deliver training programs. At least 30 instructors/lecturers in learning institutes will be trained among others.

LEEP is another project under these interventions. It is also funded by the AFD with 5 million Euros for the period of three years.

With Mercy Corps as implementing partner in collaboration with Ministry of Youth & Sports, the LEEP project targets 11,000 Youths in Montserrado, Grand Bassa and Margibi Counties, 18-35 years.

The first component of the Liberia Employment and Entrepreneurship Program (LEEP) aims to increase the employability and entrepreneurship skills of Liberian youth.

The second component will focus on creating a regional system of access to higher technical education within the Mano River Union. Liberian students will be supported to continue their studies at the INP-HB, an institution that provides top-notch training for technicians and engineers.

Additionally, the program will provide funding for 15 companies and grant at least 40 scholarships towards the acquisition of a professional degree from the INP-HB.

The project will also create a youth investment fund to finance youth-led microenterprises and establish partnerships with existing incubators to make available seed funding, in order to provide start-up capital for innovative initiatives led by the private sector.

LEEP will rely on the involvement of Youth Opportunity Centers, run by Mercy Corps, and the Ministry of Youth and Sports. Additionally, the Ministry of Youth and Sports will be supported to implement the National Youth Service Program and the Youth on the Job Training Program.

Under Capacity Building for TVET, 100 graduates from MVTC are currently undergoing 45 days of Advance Training in Woodwork, Electricity and auto mechanic by professors from a Chinese based college, Shandong Foreign Trade Vocational College.

Also, 30 graduates from the Klay Agriculture and Vocational Training Center, KAVTC are undergoing 3 months of training in Oil Palm Nursery Development in Klay, Bomi County sponsored by Association for the Development of Education in Africa, ADEA and implemented by the Ministries of Youth and Sports and