Five young women, aged 15-25 years and living in Togo’s Katanga slum community are now running their own businesses, with significantly increased income and earning potential, and able to employ other young people. They are now able to support themselves, their families and their community.

The Katanga Youth Investment was launched in June 2014 with the help of the Roast Foundation and Iqbal Wahhab OBE, Y Care International Ambassador and Special Business Advisor. Funds are used to equip young people with business skills training, mentoring and capital to start up and strengthen their businesses.

Aicha, one of the YMCA youth business trainees, says: “Today I’m confident I can succeed in life because I received financial support for my business and also with support from YMCA staff and trainers who are always available to guide and advise us.”

Financial support has been provided as a loan, rather than a grant. This encouraged the youth entrepreneurs to get into the habit of saving part of their income for ‘reimbursement’. Now they have opened savings accounts so they are more prepared for emergencies and have capital available to re-invest into their businesses.

With training, all five young women are now able to manage their businesses more efficiently, assess market opportunities, and avoid wasteful expense. Ongoing support means that the young women are able to contact the trainers for advice when they face challenges. Some of the young women have recruited other young people into their business, providing new sources of income.

Iqbal Wahhab says: “The people I met in Katanga exhibited a real spirit to not simply accept a life of desperate poverty. They just needed a guiding hand to get them going It was important to me that the investment we made had sustainability. That is why I asked that it be a loan that gets repaid to benefit others as the next batch of slum entrepreneurs. I am absolutely delighted by the results Y Care International has delivered. I hope this proven model is one that other businesses and individuals replicate.”

Find out more about the Katanga Investment Fund

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With a population that is predominantly young and rural, it is apt that the green stripes of Togo’s flag symbolise hope and agriculture. Yet poverty remains widespread and poor governance continues to hamper efforts to end it.

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