Monday, February 26, 2024

ADF Approves $16m for Liberian Youth Entrepreneurs

African Development Fund (ADF), the concessional lending arm for the African Development Bank (AfDB) Group, has approved $16 million for the creation of a Youth Entrepreneurship Investment Bank (YEIB) in Liberia.

A statement issued on the AfDB website said the fund was approved to unleash the business potential of young Liberians.

According to the AfDB Group Country Manager for Liberia, Benedict Kanu, approximately $16 million has been allocated to finance this strategic initiative.

Kanu said the initiative was meant to target youth-led micro, small, and medium enterprises in Liberia’s burgeoning agribusiness and allied sectors.

“The YEIB is anticipated to support over 30,000 youth-led businesses during the next 17 years. “The YEIB will be the initial catalyst for developing a financial ecosystem for youth entrepreneurship in Liberia, which is currently non-existent.

“By creating 120,000 direct and indirect jobs and unlocking approximately $500 million in additional lending, it can lay the groundwork for future, potentially more profitable investments.

“The YEIB is a long-term investment with a significant impact on job creation and financial inclusion,” he said.

According to Kanu, Liberia’s youthful population, accounting for over 60 per cent of its citizens, is experiencing high unemployment meaning many young people do not get the opportunities they deserve.

“With about 45 per cent of its youths not involved in employment, education, or training, Liberia is facing daunting youth employment challenges.

“With notable implications for social cohesion, fragility, and resilience,” Kanu added.

He said a primary cause of this was the absence of adequate financial literacy, education, and entrepreneurial skills.

“The micro, small, and medium enterprises that are vital contributors to Liberia’s economic growth are particularly the hardest hit, with up to 90 per cent failing within the first year of operation.

“The bank project will help mitigate these issues by providing financial and non-financial services for young entrepreneurs, ensuring inclusion, reducing vulnerabilities, and preparing for long-term sustainability.

“The establishment of a YEIB in Liberia will enhance institutional stewardship and oversight of the youth entrepreneurship ecosystem, thus helping to drive economic growth and development,” he added.

Also, the AfDB’s Financial Sector Development Acting Director, Ahmed Attout, said the inauguration of the YEIB project in Liberia was a landmark moment.

“Fostering youth entrepreneurship is at the heart of our mission. The YEIB project is a testament to this commitment; an investment in our youths is an investment in Africa’s future.

“And beyond finances, the project is about capacity building, promoting innovation, and empowering our youths to drive economic transformation,” Attout said.

Liberia presents numerous opportunities for investment, especially in the agriculture sector which engages about 70 per cent of the population.

Also, sectors such ad Information Technology, renewable energy, and light industrial manufacturing offer promising avenues for investment.

The implementation of the YEIB will be carried out in close collaboration with a range of key stakeholders, including the government, commercial banks, and micro, small, and medium enterprises.

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