Burkina Faso: UN Empowers 750 Youths With Business Skills

An agency of the United Nations, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) is currently turning some of the unemployed youths of Burkina Faso into emerging business tigers.

Already, 750 youths have been trained in entrepreneurship and business management as part of the project Youth, Employment and Migration implemented by IOM in the Centre-East region of Burkina Faso, the region most affected by irregular migration.

One of the trained youths, Isabelle Zougmoré, said “I want to do business in poultry farming. I already have the skills, but no funds. I am very proud because I didn’t know where to find the partners, but thanks to this event, I now have the information I needed. I think I will have the funds to start my business.”

Facing unemployment and poverty, many youths who are “bras valides” (able arms) from the Centre-East opt to migrate, often risking their lives for a chance at better economic opportunities for themselves and their families. In 2018, 56 per cent of migrants assisted with voluntary return to Burkina Faso came from this region.

To reduce this phenomenon, 750 youths from the region were trained in entrepreneurship and small business management in various areas, including farming, agriculture, trade and crafts.

However, only half of them (375) received funding to realise their activities through the project. To help the remaining trainees raise the necessary funds, IOM organised an Entrepreneurship and Networking Day event on 27 July 2019 aiming at connecting youths with financial institutions likely to support their projects.

Project Manager for IOM, Marie-Stella Ndiaye, said “the development of the region should not be done for the youths, but by the youths. Young people are the solution and not the problem. It’s only through this strength and their commitment that we’ll succeed,” she added at the opening of the event.

The Entrepreneurship and Networking Day brought together entrepreneurs, youths, business promoters, representatives of banks, microfinance institutions and civil society organizations. It was also the opportunity for youths, local authorities and financial institutions to share experiences, and reflect on how to create an economic and solidarity-based ecosystem conducive to the promotion of youth entrepreneurship in the region.

The opening ceremony chaired by the High Commissioner of the province of Boulgou, Boukary Sawadogo, representing the Governor of the region, and sponsored by the Mayor of Tenkodogo, Harouna Welogo, mobilised around 375 young microenterprises promoters, representatives of banks, microfinance institutions and civil society organisations.

“The meeting allowed us to have information on various funding opportunities and the conditions to meet in order to access them”, says Eric Yao, one of the participants.

The Youth, Employment and Migration project is implemented with the support of the Governments of Italy and the Kingdom of Belgium. It aims at strengthening the employability and entrepreneurship capacities of youths most at risk to migrate irregularly. As part of the project, a study [in French] on profitable niche markets in the region was conducted.

An awareness-raising campaign on the risks and dangers of irregular migration was also organised, reaching more than 36,000 people in the region.

In addition to that, the 375 young people selected for funding have received technical and vocational training in the various sectors of activity in which they intend to do business including breeding, gardening, catering, mechanics, welding, carpentry, etc. These trainings aim at strengthening their abilities and their technical skills to succeed in their respective businesses.


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