Employment promotion for youth

Project description

Title: Employment Promotion Programme (EPP III)
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 due to low economic growth and hence lack of jobs. Most of these are young people who are often marginalised through exclusion from resources and decision making. Together with the overall malfunctioning of the educational system this contributes to the continuing fragility and destabilisation of the country.


For young people who are employed in agriculture or micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) the work and income situations have improved sustainably.

Dry cocoa beans close-up


Support for the private sector, especially in agriculture, will strengthen the rural economy and improve income opportunities for young people. To this end, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH 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 six main areas:

Capacity support for partners. In line with the government’s Midterm National Development Plan (2019 - 2023), 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, implement and renew the National Employment Policy (2014 - 2018).

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.

Agricultural value chains. With a focus on cocoa, coffee, rice and vegetables, this programme component reaches 14,500 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 Gesellschaft für angewandte Kommunalforschung mbH (GEFAK).

Facility for Innovation applicant

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. Over 1,000 entrepreneurs are targeted to become more resilient and more profitable.

Private sector: Facility for Innovation. The Facility for Innovation is intended to develop business ideas into ‘mature’ business concepts and aims to support 175 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.

Cash for Work: Cash for work activities aim to rapidly create earning opportunities for 9,000 rural youth to provide them with the scope for self-development. Often for the first time, the youth gain paid working experience and can build up confidence. The main activities implemented are rehabilitation of cocoa and coffee plantations as well as inland valley swamp rice fields to also support the livelihoods of farmers or garbage collection in one of the district capitals to decrease environmental pollution.