Monday, August 28, 2017 was a special day for young entrepreneurs in Liberia. After Côte d’Ivoire in December 2016, AfDB is supporting the Government of Liberia to provide entrepreneurship training to young people in the agriculture value chain from 28thto 31st August 2017. The objective of the training is to encourage young entrepreneurs to take the bull by the horn, embrace risk and start their business.
From 7.00 am, the Samuel Kanyon Doe Sport Complex registered the arrival of dozens of youth. These young people did not come to see a soccer game, but to receive training that will change their mindset and perception of agriculture and give them the tools to become successful agripreneurs.
The opening ceremony was chaired by the Minister of Youth and Sport, Charles N’Tow, on behalf of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. The Minister welcomed the participants and thanked the Bank for bringing this opportunity. He explained that the youth should not see this workshop like any other ordinary training. “You are not here by mistake, Liberia has to diversify its economy and agriculture is the sector we have to look for, this is the reason why you are here.”
The representative of the Minister of agriculture acknowledged the strong support of the Bank to the agriculture sector in Liberia. The Bank, he said, sponsored a study trip for the Ministers of agriculture and the Minister of Youth and Sports to learn from Nigeria’s experience on how to create jobs for youth in the agriculture value chain. This current training is one of the fruits emanating from the 2016 study trip, he added.
The representative of the Liberia Business Association (LIBA) pointed to the fact that agriculture is not a priority just for Liberia, but for the world. The best way to prosperity is to “grow what you eat and eat what you grow. Whatever you grow today, there is a way to add value to that.” He encouraged the youth to take advantage of the training to become the next business men and women of the country.
The African Development Bank’s representative, Mwasambili Rees, Country Program Officer, explained that the training is part of the implementation of the Bank’s Jobs for Youth in Africa Strategy which aims to create 25 million jobs and equip 50 million youth by 2025. He assured the Government and the youth that the Bank will continue to support them to provide solutions to the huge unemployment and underemployment issue. In this regard, the Bank launched on Saturday, 19th August 2017 the Youth Empowerment and Entrepreneurship Project (YEEP) in Liberia amounting to US$ 2.3 million with the objective to support the Government efforts in promoting youth entrepreneurship.
The Lead trainer and President of the African Foundation for Entrepreneurship and Economic Development (AFEED),Samuel Mathey, explained that by the end of the training all the trainees should be able to come up with a business plan to start their enterprise by next week. A six month follow up coaching will be provided and the youth will be part of a larger entrepreneurs’ network. This training is essential to form the basis for the implementation of the ENABLE Youth Program for Liberia when approved in September this year.