602 young entrepreneurs graduate in Makeni and Newton
Newton, Makeni, February 13th 2014: a total of 602 young entrepreneurs in Newton, Western Rural District and from the Business Development Service centre operated by the African Foundation for Development (AFFORD) in Makeni, the Northern Regional capital, have graduated on the 28th January and 7th February 2014 respectively.
At the Obasanjo Skills Acquisition Centre in Newton, where 500 (300 male, 200 female) youth trained in various discipline ranging from ICT, Community Development Studies, Conflict resolution graduated on the 28th January. The National Youth Commissioner, the agency created by the Government of Sierra Leone to help address the burning issue of youth empowerment in Sierra Leone said “A diploma or certificate is not a job in itself. The diploma is a means to an end. These projects are only geared towards enhancing your skills so that you will be able to independently find jobs and be successful in the future”.
At a ceremony in the Makeni City Council Hall, the Chairman of the Makeni Youth Council, Ibrahim Jalloh said “Youths are the agents of growth in our society” as 102 youths, 64 of them women, graduated from a UNDP funded Business Development Services (BDS) centre in Makeni, Friday February 7th.
Speaking at a ceremony attended by the Northern Regional Commissioner of NAYCOM, President of the Traders Union, community youth activists, UNDP and budding entrepreneurs, the Makeni Youth Council chairman added: “these new skills and knowledge that the youths have acquired will help them become self-employed, independently run their own businesses and help Sierra Leone move forward.”
Nine (9) women among the graduates in Makeni received cash prizes of Le 1,000, 000 (one million Leone) each as reward for their excellent business plans developed during the trainings. The Prize money (about US $235), will be invested into their businesses.
Sheku Kamara, from Makeni and one of the graduates who have established a business that uses household waste to produce environmentally friendly charcoal said: “I used to run a PlayStation centre and selling ginger cakes, the centre took a lot of my time and I had very little profit. But since I joined the BDS and started learning entrepreneur skills, I came to realize that the centre consumed too much time, so I decided to stop doing it and jumped into another business. I started producing environmental friendly charcoals for households. These charcoals are produced from household plastic waste. I have now also trained and employed other young people.”
An excited Adama Iye Kamara, a winner of the cash prize in Makeni city said: “I have been doing business for 6 years now, but BDS has enhanced my business skills, and I’m going to apply these skills in my business to help it grow in the future. I’m calling on young people, especially young businesswomen to enroll, because it will help you be an independent women in society, so that you will not depends on any man. As I’ standing here now I’m really happy and proud of myself for this achievement.”
UNDP Business Development Officer, Hassan Conteh said UNDP will continue to support the young entrepreneurs through the Business Development Centres and the implement partners, like AFFORD-Sierra Leone to transform the lives of young people in Sierra Leone.
The BDS centres, supported technically and financially by UNDP under the Youth Employment and Empowerment Programme (YEEP), were established in 2012 in Bo, Kenema, Makeni Freetown and Newton, in collaboration with the National Youth Commission, to enhance the entrepreneurial skills of young people and strengthen micro, small and medium enterprises in the country. BDS centres provide a range of trainings, business advice, mentoring and coaching, business planning and management including financial literacy also link them up with financial service providers to enable them access finance to run small and medium businesses.
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Programme Manager, Youth Employment and Empowerment Programme: Molla Alemu Email. firstname.lastname@example.org;