Sierra Leone is one of the poorest countries on earth. In 2014, Ebola devastated lives and jobs, forcing businesses to close and leaving more and more families living in desperate poverty. Now, local solar-powered Hubs are offering the most marginalised young people access to entrepreneurship support and training using modern technology to help rebuild their lives.
Even before the Ebola outbreak, Sierra Leone was still struggling to recover from a civil war that ended in 2002. During this time, almost half the population was displaced within the country.
Over 90 per cent rely on casual work and end trapped in a cycle of poverty, like Alisane who was struggling to make a living.
“I learnt some skills by working on building sites and sometimes I could get work but it was badly paid because I was not formally qualified and did not have experience or the right contacts.”
In a country ravaged by tragedy the introduction of Youth Entrepreneurship Hubs can offer an innovative and effective way to change the lives of young people – even for those living in remote rural areas.
“I always wanted to be an electrician. I heard that the YMCA was providing vocational training so I went to their office and filled in a form. It took all my courage to sign up and I was happy when they accepted my application.”
Much more than just desk space, the Hubs offer:
- reliable internet access
- drop-in advice clinics for young business starter
- opportunities to meet and connect with other young entrepreneur
- mentoring and links to potential employers and clients.
Perhaps best of all, training can now be delivered to young apprentices using SMS messaging. This include exercises and assignments to work on in their workplaces supervised by the business owners who employ them.
When I completed my internship, I started my own electrical business and I get big contracts to wire new houses.
I now get paid 5 million Leones (£500) per house that I wire, and I employ 12 apprentices. I also spend a lot of time encouraging young people in my community to get an apprenticeship or further education.
With my income, I am able to send my two boys to school. My biggest hope for the future is that they do better than me.Alisane
We believe that the Hubs offer young people a fresh start. Their opportunities have been limited not just by the grinding poverty that is a way of life, but by their lack of skills or where they live. With your support we can reach these young men and women and help them retrain and reskill to face the challenges ahead. This is a time of change for these young people, and with your help, it can become a reality – please make a gift of whatever you can afford today.