The Minister of Youth Affairs, Mohamed Orman Bangura has on Tuesday 3rd August 2021, launched the project “Supporting Recovery of Youth-Led Businesses Affected by COVID-19 with Funding from UNDP,” an intervention supporting recovery stimulus package from the Government of Sierra Leone and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP); which is to be implemented by the Restless Development.
During his keynote address, Minister Bangura said, the young people of this country voted for change, and this was one of the changes they voted.
“Young people of this country voted for change. And this one of the changes they voted for. Gone are the days when young people were misused by politicians. This project is in connection with Cluster Six of the Mid-Term National Development Plan and page 43 of the President, HE Brigadier (Retired) Julius Maada Bio’s Manifesto commitment. Simply put, it is the Youth Empowerment Fund.” Minister Bangura explained.
The Minister reassured the gathering that, the Government has different programmes for the young people of this country but pleaded with them that the grant was purposely for young people whose businesses were closed or significantly scale down as a result of the outbreak of the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Hon. Mohamed Orman Bangura pleaded with Restless Development, and all other implementing partners to be honest in the implementation of this programme. He also assured the UNDP and all partners of the Government’s firm commitment to accountability and youth empowerment.
The Senior Pragramme and Partnership Manager of Restless Development, Mr. Alfred Navo given the background of the project said, the project would be targeting Hundred (100) youth-led businesses particular those owned by female youths and persons living with disability. He continued that, Seventy percent of young female owned businesses will be targeted to benefit from this project and the budget for the project is One Billion, Four Hundred Million Leones. He furthered that 70% will go into grant component and location for its implementation is Western Area.
Mr. Navo continued that, the expected outcome of this project would be for selected youth-led businesses to have increase knowledge and skills in entrepreneurship and financial literacy, overcome challenges through mentorship, and to receive the stimulus packages.
Mr. Navo assured the Ministry of Youth Affairs and UNDP for their commitment to ensuring that free and fair selection is done, beneficiaries are trained to manage their businesses and full stimulus packages are given to the selected youth-led businesses.
Representative from the UNDP, Dr. Pa Lamin Baya addressing the gathering registered their gratitude with MoYA for their continued effort to empowering youths of the country.
The Resident Coordinator of UNDP, Pa Lamin continued that, the Coronavirus Pandemic has indeed negatively impacted the world’s economy and Sierra Leone young people have indeed suffered a lot from the effects of the pandemic. He furthered that-that was the reason they are supporting the Government of Sierra Leone’s Response Plan and Quick Economic Recovery with focus on assisting youth-led businesses to recover from the effects of the COVID-19.
The eligibility criteria set by MoYA and Restless Development include: a Business owned and led by a young person aged between 18 and 35, a business operations that was ceased or adversely affected by the outbreak of the COVID-19 Pandemic, Business must not have had prior access to micro-credit loans or grant from other public institutions, applicant must be a Sierra Leonean citizen with strong passion for growth of the business, applicant must be willing to commit 2-3 weeks of their time to an intensive user-friendly financial literacy training to enhance capacity to grow their business, and must possess willingness for their business to be supported and mentored by Restless Development after receipt of grant.
The Project, “Supporting Recovery of Youth-Led Businesses Affected by COVID-19 with Funding from UNDP” is in tandem with the Government’s Quick Action Economic Recovery Programme (QAERP) designed to ameliorate the effect of COVID-19 on the country’s economy. The Ministry of Youth Affairs and Restless Development are calling on young entrepreneurs that met the above criteria to collect, complete and return application form at the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Restless Development Head Office respectively