Employment Promotion Programme (EPP III)

Project description

Title: Promoting youth employment through local economic development
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Sierra Leone
Lead executing agency: Ministry of Labour and Social Security (MLSS)
Overall term: 2016 to 2020

B-loop beneficiary


Sierra Leone is burdened with an extremely high rate of unemployment. Of the current labour force, which is estimated at 2.7 million, some 1.6 million (59 per cent) are unemployed or underemployed. Most of these are young people. The marginalisation of the youth, their exclusion from education and resources, and the lack of employment opportunities all represent destabilising factors for the country.


The employment and income situations have improved sustainably for young people engaged in agriculture and working in micro, small and medium-sized businesses (MSMEs).

Dry cocoa beans close-up


Support for the private sector, especially in the agriculture, will strengthen the rural economy and improve income opportunities for young people. To this end, GIZ is implementing the programme on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). Its primary partner is the Sierra Leone Ministry of Labour and Social Security (MLSS) to which it provides institutional support. The programme is active in the districts of Koinadugu, Kono and Kailahun, which include some of the poorest areas of the country. Its multifaceted approach addresses five main areas:

Capacity support for partners. In line with the government’s Agenda for Prosperity (2013 – 2018), the programme aims to reinforce the macroeconomic policy framework to encourage sustainable and equitable employment for all young people, including women and people with special needs. It also assists the ministry in its efforts to coordinate and implement the National Employment Policy Action Plan (2014 -2018) across all sectors.

Youth development. The programme is helping young people achieve future success by ensuring they have access to vocational training and decent jobs. This component addresses the mismatch between the skills supply and the labour market demand by providing targeted training for young people. As such, it promotes entrepreneurship and employability. The programme is working to establish demand-oriented training for 10,000 young people, with a focus on developing life skills and business skills.

Facility for Innovation applicant

Agricultural value chains. With a focus on cocoa, coffee, rice and vegetables, this programme component reaches 12,500 farmers. The value-chain promotion activities are intended to enable young people to earn their livelihoods from self-employed agricultural work. The main activities include value chain analysis, the rehabilitation of abandoned or neglected fields, measures to increase production, capacity building activities, the development of business models and links to private companies, and the scaling up and dissemination of successful business models. Work on this component is carried out by AFC Agriculture and Finance Consultants (GOPA Consultants), together with Deutsche Welthungerhilfe and GEFAK.

Private Sector: the Business Loop. The ‘B-Loop’ consists of four development steps in a cycle lasting approximately 12 months: 1) Capacity training needs assessments to provide an objective picture of the skills and the capacities available to an entrepreneur or enterprise; 2) Business training in core areas to improve entrepreneurs’ business skills, including cash management, customer relations and business planning; 3) Business coaching in practical sessions with experienced business coaches who accompany the entrepreneurs as they introduce changes and track their progress; 4) Access to finance: during the training sessions, financial service providers give insights into the financial services they offer and how MSMEs can access these products and services.

Private sector: Facility for Innovation. The Facility for Innovation is intended to develop business ideas into ‘mature’ business concepts, and aims to support 100 such ideas. Key requirements for selection are the innovativeness of the idea, as well as their potential for value addition and job creation. The entrepreneurs present their business ideas to a selection panel. Grants are then awarded for the implementation of the successful plans.