By Alfred Fornah
The International Organization for Migration (IOM), in collaboration with Sierra Leone’s Ministry of Youth Affairs (MOYA) and the National Youth Commission (NAYCOM), successfully held a handing over ceremony of startup kits to support young people in the Western Area.
The project, is funded by the government of Japan, represented at the official ceremony by the Ambassador of Japan to Sierra Leone, His Excellency Tsutomu Himeno.
Fifteen youths in Freetown received start-up kits, bringing the number to 58 young people who have been provided with start-ups in Bo and Western Area respectively. More than one hundred and ninety young entrepreneurs will also be receiving their own items within the framework of IOM’s Entrepreneurship Training and Mentorship in the coming days and weeks. This programme is part of IOM’s Youth Empowerment Project implemented with funds from the Government of Japan. The start-up kits distributed are based on the business plans of the entrepreneurs- geared towards business ventures including hair dressing, catering, and motor bike transportation services among others.
The project’s initiative is borne out of IOM’s desire to empower and equip young people with entrepreneurial skills and startups to dissuade them from embarking on Irregular migration.
“Unemployment is among the many factors that drive young people to seek greener pastures through dangerous journeys” explained AkaoKunikazu, Project Manager and Officer-In charge at IOM Sierra Leone. “The entrepreneurial skills gained and equipment received through the programme will enable them to begin their businesses, create employment and improve their livelihoods and income generation opportunities.
MrKunikazu stated that” IOM is not only providing equipment and training, we will work with the Government to ensure that, we put in place follow up mechanisms and effectively monitor these businesses”
“The business management skills we learned and the items we received will go a long way to help us re-establish and improve our business” said Milton KomehLahai, a BOB Tech Youth Group member in Freetown.
“The training and mentorship have been interesting and taught me useful steps to start a business,” explained NgadieBuanie, one of the participants who will be establishing a hair salon in Bo.
“Over time, we have enjoyed an excellent relationship with IOM. Our partnership in this project to deliver youth empowerment initiatives resulted from from government’s commitment to develop the youth sector” said Mohamed Orman Bangura, Minister of Youth Affairs. “If young people are empowered today, we will have a better Sierra Leone tomorrow” Mr. Bangura added.
“The Government of Japan is happy to support this project because of its good bilateral relationship with Sierra Leone and the importance of the project in providing opportunities to young people” said Tsutomu Himeno – Japan’s Ambassador to Sierra Leone.