By R. Joyclyn Wea
The Ministry of Youth & Sports has three interventions to be implemented to provide capacity for Liberian youths in the most vulnerable communities across the country to provide them the means to become business men and women able to lift themselves from poverty.
“These interventions are the YOP funded by the World Bank; YEEP sponsored by the African Development Bank and the LEEP sponsored by the French Development Agency through Mercy Corps and MYS,” Minister Zoegar Wilson said.
The third intervention is the Liberia Employment and Entrepreneurship Program (LEEP), which Minister Wilson said the funding (5 million Euros) are from AFD and the implementing partner, is Mercy Corps in collaboration with the Ministry of Youth and Sports.
In a power-point presentation of the National Youth Employment and Empowerment Program (NYEEP), Minister Wilson said the Project Development Objective (PDO) is to promote initiatives that increase employment opportunities for young Liberians with preferential options for poor and vulnerable youths.
He said the overall economic goal of the Government of Liberia is to transform the country from a least developed country status (country with the lowest indicators of socioeconomic development lowest human development index rating) to a middle-income economy (a nation with a per capita gross national income between US$1005 and US$12,235) by 2030.
In order to provide a platform for youth empowerment and employability, Minister Wilson said the government has been implementing various programs to alleviate poverty among its population which have yielded a wide national and international support and recognition. “And there are still gaps despite these programs, characterized by persistent existence of extremely poor and marginalized groups,” he noted.
He pointed out that Liberia’s growing population has exacerbated the high levels of unemployment especially among the youth and this has exerted extreme pressure on the available resources and job opportunities.
“Some of the existing job opportunities, particularly in subsistence and the informal sector, require semi-skilled labor, which are of low economic value and pay. There is a mismatch between the rate at which jobs are created and entrants in the labor market most are the youth. “There is, therefore, a need for pragmatic, integrated and comprehensive interventions that could empower young people with opportunities for creation of their own enterprises thus contributing to the social economic transformation of the country,” he said.
The National Youth Employment and Empowerment Program, Minister Wilson said is designed to provide strategic and sustainable interventions for youth, enabling youth effectively to participate in national development and improve the quality of life. The program focuses on three components, namely entrepreneurship development and management, national youth voluntary service and the national cadet and internship program, he said and noted that the Youth Entrepreneurship Development component will target all categories of youths in Liberia, with specific focus on the poor and unemployed.
This component, he said will be implemented under the guidance of the Ministry of Youth & Sports and financed initially by the Government of Liberia’s own resources (with a possibility of development partners’ support in the future). The initial budget estimate for the youth entrepreneurship development component is US$350, 000 for 700 youth aged 18-35 are expected to benefit from this component within two years of implementation.