Promoting youth employment in Sierra Leone

Project description

Title: Employment Promotion Programme (EPP IV) - Youth Employment Promotion through Local Economic Development and TVET
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Co-funded by: European Union
Country: Sierra Leone
Lead executing agency: Ministry of Planning and Economic Development (MoPED)
Overall term: 2020 to 2024


Entrepreneur in Kono in the shop he founded after participating in an entrepreneurship training in EPP III. ©Cooper Inveen


Sierra Leone is heavily indebted, not least due to a series of crises that have left the country with few stimuli for economic development. The economy as a whole is weak and very exposed to external shocks. In the past months, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused additional economic disruption. Another burden facing the country is its extremely high rate of unemployment and underemployment, with 60 to 70 per cent of the working population classified as working poor. This means that, even where people are in employment, households still fall below the poverty line (ILO 2019). Youth and women in rural areas of Sierra Leone are particularly affected.

Agriculture accounts for 55 per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP) and 70 per cent of employment, but it is still mostly at subsistence level due to persistent underinvestment, low productivity, lack of diversification and low value addition.

This exacerbates the country's precarious economic situation and the challenging socio-economic status of rural communities in particular.


The employment situation of young people in Sierra Leone is improved.


Former participant of the B-Loop training and coaching programme in Kailahun. Record-keeping has become an everyday practice for her, and has been instrumental in scaling her business. ©Cooper Inveen


The programme takes an integrated approach that brings together public and private actors to both improve employability and increase job opportunities. Providing financial and advisory support to the private sector, especially in agricultural value chains, leads to a healthier rural economy and improves income opportunities for young people. At the same time, the programme works to make young people fit for the labour market by organising needs-based, fast-track courses that provide them with essential life, trade and business skills. This is supported by improving the system of technical and vocational education and training (TVET) and adapting it to the needs of the labour market. Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH is implementing the programme on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and is co-financed by the European Union. Its primary partner is the Sierra Leone Ministry of Planning and Economic Development. Its multifaceted approach addresses three main fields of action:

  1.  Skills development:

    This component provides demand-oriented training for 11,000 young people (50 per cent of whom are women) with a focus on developing life, trade, and business skills. A second pillar is integrated farmer training (IFT). It combines essential aspects of good agricultural practice (GAP), knowledge about farming as a business and attitude-changing exercises. A total of 4,000 advanced farmers will be reached and will be able to increase their incomes from self-employed agricultural work as a result.
  2. Technical vocational education and training (TVET):

    The major focus of the project is to further develop the TVET sector and consolidate it at institutional level. The central task of the project in this area is to promote the development and implementation of the National Qualifications Framework (NQF) in cooperation with national partners. The project supports the implementation of the NQF by improving physical learning environments in selected TVET institutions and by developing and revising curricula. A key innovation is the integration of practical work experience into the TVET system (dual studies) in collaboration with the private sector, which will improve the practical relevance of the training provided.
  3. Private sector development:

    The third component aims to directly create more employment opportunities for young people by supporting established micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises. The Facility for Growth provides access to finance and in-kind support in various forms. Through the SME Business and Coaching Loop, 750-900 beneficiaries undergo intensive commercial training. As part of pilot projects, the SME Business and Coaching Loop will also be offered to advanced growth-oriented enterprises and to people who are either unable to read, write and calculate, or only have limited skills in this respect.

    In addition, various business development services are being developed to facilitate business operations.

Last update: April 2021