According to the latest statistics (UNDP 2014), Sierra Leone has one of the highest youth unemployment rates in sub-Saharan Africa. With an economy lacking in diversity and running on a single track – mining – the country lacks the capacity to absorb the more than 800,000 young people currently looking for employment.
In this context, the Fostering Innovative, Resilience and Socially Responsible Youth Entrepreneurship Project aims to help young people to gain both employability skills and the ability to set up their own businesses. In three years the project seeks to identify, support and strengthen the capacity of more than 1,200 young people in entrepreneurship and leadership skills in Freetown, Makeni and Pujehun. The projects aims to reach vulnerable young people aged 18 – 35 years.
We are working with Sierra Leone YMCA, Computer Aid, On Our Radar, Sensi Tech Hub, A Call to Business, Global Youth Business and CODHASAPA to train vulnerable young people to become young entrepreneurs.
How are we helping young people to become young business people?
Young people in neglected and remote communities are benefitting from increased access to information about prices and techniques to improve their businesses, and opportunities to connect with new partners and customers.
This year a key achievement for us was the installation of the ZubaBoxes, which are solar-powered shipping containers equipped with computers and other technologies. ZubaBoxes prove access to computers and internet to connect people living in remote rural communities and areas with no electricity. The ZubaBoxes are sites for on-going mentoring, coaching and training in business development and ICT.
With the relevant ICT skills, young people are able to acquire knowledge in business and become young entrepreneurs. They have embarked on research and marketing to generate their business ideas and translate those ideas into reality.
Alejandro Espinosa-Llano, Project Manager at Computer Aid said:
“Witnessing the excitement of individuals of all ages trying to get a place in the first computer training lesson, both in Makeni and Pujehun, is testament that the Zubaboxes are in the right place, where they will impact many lives thanks to the training programs offered by the Queens Young Leader programme. Their level of concentration illustrates how important access to internet and computers offered at the Zubabox is to them.”
This project is funded by Comic Relief and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust for the Queens Young Leaders programme.