Sweden, Mercy Corps sign US$5.8m agreement

The Embassy of Sweden Monrovia and Mercy Corps have signed an agreement of about US$5.8m aiming at empowering the young people of Liberia through a program which comes in phase three of Promoting Sustainable Partnerships for Economic Transformation (Prospects).

Mercy Corps Country Director Mr. Douglas Copper and Swedish Embassy Charge d’ affaires Ms. Elisabeth Harleman signed on behalf of their respective institutions on Tuesday, 26 September at Mercy Corps office on 15th Street, Sinkor, suburb of Monrovia.
During the signing attended by representatives from Liberian ministries including Ministry of Youth and Sports and Ministry of Labor, the Sweden Embassy official Ms. Harleman said her Embassy has taken a decision to support the program with 46 million Swedish Kronor or about US$5.8m.
Ms. Harleman reveals that the aims of the support are to contribute to increased youth employment, work to improve the skills and confidence of 16,500 youth to seek economic opportunities and provide 1,302 young men and women on - the - job training and access to employment information to improve their employment chances.
She says the program expected to be implemented in Montserrado, Bong and Nimba Counties for the coming three years through Prospects phase three builds on previous two phases of the program which reached about 12,000 young men and women.
“The primary objectives [are] to support young Liberian men and women to find employment or become entrepreneurs; to support innovations for youth employment by tapping into private sector creativity and ability to create employment for young people,” she says.

Included in the objectives of supporting Prospects phase three are to support results, learning, and research around youth employment issues in ways that contribute to national policy changes and greater coordination between youth stakeholders.
Mercy Corps Country Director Douglas Cooper expressed thanks to Ms. Harleman and the Sweden Embassy for the support and their interest to sign the agreement aimed at empowering the youth of Liberia.
Prospects Program Manager Mr. Nyema Richards says he is proud of the significant impact Prospects is making nationally, particularly taking into account the empowerment of young people, some of whom work in government institutions after being provided job - ready skills.

Mr. Richards says as a Liberian, he and his team of workers at Prospects are proud of the work the institution is doing here in helping young Liberians in the next step in their lives in line with what government has been trying to do through its Poverty Reduction Strategy (PRS).

By Winston W. Parley

Liberia, Côte d’Ivoire sign eight cooperation agreements

Relations between Liberia and Côte d’Ivoire have reached new heights with the revival of the Joint Commission and the signing of several cooperation agreements aimed at strengthening bilateral relations and cooperation between both countries.

A Foreign Ministry release said, the three-day technical working sessions between Liberia and Côte d’Ivoire climaxed Wednesday, August 30, with the signing of eight Cooperation Agreements and a Joint Communiqué by Liberia’s Foreign Minister, Her Excellency Ms. Marjon V. Kamara and Côte d’Ivoire’s Foreign Minister, His Excellency Mr. Marcel Amon Tanoh on behalf of their respective countries. The signing ceremony took place in the Foreign Ministry’s C. Cecil Dennis, Jr. Auditorium.

Other agreements signed included: Revised Agreement on the Joint Commission; Technical, Vocational and Educational Training; Sanitation and Urban Development; Agriculture; Fishery, Livestock Farming and Aquaculture; Forest and Wildlife; Production, Transportation and Energy Supply; and Submission to the Commission of Limits of the Continental Shelf.

Liberian Institutions involved included the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Lands, Mines and Energy, Agriculture, Public Works, Youth and Sports and Education. Others were the Liberia Maritime Authority and the Liberia Electricity Corporation.

The two foreign ministers acknowledged the privileged nature and exceptional quality of the bonds of friendship and solidarity that unite their countries. They also welcomed the commitment of their Governments to the peace ideals, justice and progress shared by their countries.

They reaffirmed their common desire to further consolidate their various consultations, at the image of the excellent relations of fraternity and friendship shared by their two Heads of State.
Foreign Ministers Kamara and Amon Tanoh also welcomed the establishment of the Joint Council of Traditional Leaders and Elders of the border area of Liberia and Côte d’Ivoire whose resolutions from the Zwedru and Guiglo meetings contributed to consolidate social cohesion and peace in this border area. They also recommended the effective implementation of the various resolutions adopted during these conclaves.

When Foreign Minister Amon Tanoh arrived in the country on Tuesday, August 29, he was received in audience by Her Excellency Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of the Republic of Liberia, to whom he conveyed a message of friendship and appreciation from His Excellency Mr. Alassane Ouattara, President of the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire.

While expressing their solidarity with the people of Sierra Leone deeply mourned by mudslides, the two foreign ministers strongly condemned the recent terrorist attacks in Africa and elsewhere in the world, notably in Ouagadougou and Barcelona in the Joint Communiqué.
After they had affixed their signatures to the eight agreements, His Excellency Mr. Amon Tanoh, speaking through an English interpreter, expressed his genuine satisfaction for the holding of the Joint Commission Meeting.

“With this session, we have demonstrated through concrete action, the strong commitment of their Excellencies, Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of the Republic of Liberia and Mr. Alassane Ouattara, President of the Republic Côte d’Ivoire, to enhance the cooperation between Liberia and Côte d’Ivoire,” he said.

Thanking Foreign Minister Kamara for fully participating in the Joint Commission Meeting, he added that Côte d'Ivoire and Liberia share not only their membership in ECOWAS and Mano River Union, but also a common destiny and ideals.

“Moreover, the necessity of jointly addressing challenges that our two States face within their development projects, it behooves upon us to act, more than ever before, in a perfect synergy of actions. That is why, I am particularly pleased with the undertakings we have just made, which offer us happy opportunities to work together in line with the desire to strengthen our bilateral cooperation as expressed by our two Heads of State.

“I also note, with satisfaction, the review of the Agreement establishing our Joint Commission. This testifies to the new momentum of our two Governments to inscribe the Ivorian-Liberian cooperation into new dynamics,” Ivorian Foreign Minister Amon Tanoh added.

He used the occasion to disclose that the zest in the momentum of the three-day meeting will be reinforced with the official upcoming visit of President Sirleaf to Côte d’Ivoire from September 7th to 8th, at the invitation of President Ouattara.

He expressed his confidence that their common determination will contribute, to upgrade more cooperation between the two sisterly countries, at a level that reflects the deepest aspirations of their respective Governments for the shared happiness of their peoples.

Responding, Foreign Minister Kamara said that it is indeed an historic occasion as the Joint Commission Agreement was concluded in 1972, 45 years ago. “It is our common decision to reenergize, reinvigorate the Joint Commission Agreement that was concluded in 1972 and to fine tune it to the new realities of development of our two countries,” she stated.

She further stated that despite signing eight agreements, both countries have already been cooperating in many other areas. She stressed that the agreements that they both signed will formalize and bring all the others into a framework that will guide both nations.

“We know that these are not the only areas of cooperation; we have indeed identified 22, but we have decided to start with these because they are the most important and these are the ones that we are hoping that we will be able to make some impact,” Foreign Minister Kamara stressed.

She challenged both countries that going forward, they should make sure to give life and meaning to the agreements signed. “We are encouraging technical staff of both countries to define the next step and not just put these agreements on the shelf,” she said, adding, “We are counting on everyone to do their best so that over the next period we will set our cooperation on a course that is irreversible.” The Joint Commission is expected to meet every two years and the next meeting will be in 2019 in Côte d’Ivoire.


ACDI/VOCA end support to oil palm farmers

As the global demand for palm oil shows no signs of slowing, Liberian farmers need more ways of boosting their productivity and income. Because of deforestation and other risks linked to palm oil production, they also need sustainable, environmentally-friendly ways of doing so. Since 2011, the economic development organization ACDI/VOCA has supported smallholder oil palm tree farmers in Liberia through programs funded by the United States government.

As the global demand for palm oil shows no signs of slowing, Liberian farmers need more ways of boosting their productivity and income. Because of deforestation and other risks linked to palm oil production, they also need sustainable, environmentally-friendly ways of doing so. Since 2011, the economic development organization ACDI/VOCA has supported smallholder oil palm tree farmers in Liberia through programs funded by the United States government.

As the global demand for palm oil shows no signs of slowing, Liberian farmers need more ways of boosting their productivity and income. Because of deforestation and other risks linked to palm oil production, they also need sustainable, environmentally-friendly ways of doing so. Since 2011, the economic development organization ACDI/VOCA has supported smallholder oil palm tree farmers in Liberia through programs funded by the United States government.

To strengthen the palm oil value chain, this year, the program paired farmers with the Liberian seed supplier Rainforest Agriculture Enterprise (RAE). Then, the program imported 200,000 seeds of pre-germinated, high-yielding, and disease-resistant F1 tenera oil palm seeds from the National Agricultural Research Center (CNRA), an international breeding center in Cote d’Ivoire.

Forty-five nursery operators in Liberia got involved by helping grow the seedlings. They bought three-fourths of the seeds imported and covered the costs of running the nursery until they could sell the seedlings to out-growers, or contracted buyers. By the August 2017 planting season, the program expects nursery operators to sell up to 125,000 of the 150,000 seeds they bought. Currently, farmers have 100,000 oil palm seedlings covering 740 hectares of land. Once harvested, they estimate earning US$600,000, which would make a large dent in rural poverty.
Previously, communities struggled to process enough quality oil palm to meet the demand. The SHOPS II program trained manufacturers and vendors of processing machines in business and financial management. It also trained seven machinists from Bong, Nimba, Lofa, and Grand Bassa counties to fabricate and use Freedom Mills. These mills surpass the traditional pit process in efficiency, especially manual mills that transport easily and need 30 percent less labor and 75 percent less time.

More than 6,000 people now have access to 400 manual and 40 motorized mills, which all contribute to the “Made in Liberia” brand. To show local farmers how to use the mills, 235 community demonstrations took place. The program also designed a new prototype Freedom Mill for processing dura palm fruits to help farmers diversify their incomes.

To keep them connected, the SHOPS II program created a data collection system at 23 trade centers, so that all actors in the value chain could access price, demand, and availability. It also held two trade fairs and took part in others hosted by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the World Food Program, and government partners. The program trained 584 farmers, processors, manufacturers, and others, including 303 men and 282 women, in best business practices and marketing. All trainings aimed to include at least 45 percent women. They also received coaching and mentoring in financial recordkeeping.

Although local banks refused to lend to farmers, despite making several visits, the SHOPS II program helped farmers form their own village savings and loan associations (VSLAs). Four of the seven VSLAs created formally registered with the Liberia Business Registry. These groups allowed farmers to pool their earnings and offer loans to one another on credit.

Volunteers on assignment with ACDI/VOCA through the USAID Farmer-to-Farmer (F2F) Program came to Liberia from the United States to share their expertise. Oil palm farmers learned about intercropping, or growing crops among other plants. They learned how planting corn, cassava, and other crops could lead to more food security and income generation until the oil palms come into full production. They also learned how to prevent soil erosion and protect wildlife habitats. Volunteers even helped install simple irrigation systems at seven nurseries to cut down on labor and seedling morbidity.

Despite the SHOPS II program soon ending, farmers and nursery operators will maintain a reliable link to seed providers, who can guarantee the same seeds, and local garages that can manufacture and repair mills. With better planting materials, mill technology, and business skills, farmers involved in the program feel positive about having sustainable livelihoods long after the program ends.

Mercy Corps exposes 205 students to job skills

Professionals invited by Mercy Corps from diverse career areas have exposed 205 graduating senior students from the Monrovia Vocational Training Center (MVTC) in Gardnerville to “job - readiness - information”, encouraging them to do practical things that add to their skills.

The interactive Career Fair held on Friday, 18 August was sponsored by ExxonMobil through the National Oil Company of Liberia (NOCAL) and implemented by Mercy Corp as one of the latter’s programs that it has been undertaking here since 2015.

At the end of a seven - day training for the 205 graduating senior students at MVTC, Mercy Corps Country Director Douglas Cooper told journalists that Mercy Corps invited professionals to speak with the young people and share their experiences as a means of motivating them to start a journey in their career.

Mr. Cooper says the interaction is meant to expose students in their areas of studies in many ways, such as providing them job - readiness - information, applications, interviews and practical things that they need to do to add to their skills in their fields of study.

The Mercy Corps official concludes that the program works specifically with youth that are finding ways to make a good living.

The students are trained in areas including carpentry, masonry, computer, electricity, plumbing and welding, among others.

They received motivational accounts from Mr. Samuel B. Jippy who runs a Welding and Fabrication center at 72nd Road, carpenter John Morris of the Charbural Enterprise on Somalia Drive, Mr. Roland V. Kranto, CEO of Roland Electrical Millennium Inc., and Mr. Meek Johnson, a specialist in refrigeration and aircondition works, among others.

Career Fair Committee Chair Mr. Stanley Karmo encouraged the students to pay keen attention to the speakers in order to benefit from their presentations.

In his presentation, Mr. Samuel B. Jippy, a welding and fabrication specialist says while pondering over what to do after he graduated from high school, his father established a welding shop in 2010 and encouraged him to get on board and learn in the shop.

While encouraging the students to pursue formal education, Mr. Jippy also argues that training one’s mind to do what is ought to be done outside of formal education is still an education in a specific area.

He tells students that there will always be challenges on the job, but they need to exercise patience to know what they are learning, and master their working tools in order to be marketable.

As for the second presenter, carpenter John Morris, he says people can get into a particular trade either by inheriting it, being inspired by others or by admiring people who are already into a particular field.

He says he was lucky to be picked by his late uncle to learn in a carpenter shop during his schooldays, and his uncle would even refuse to give him food if he (Morris) was complained of not performing certain tasks assigned to him in the carpenter shop. --By Winston W. Parley

Gd. Kru youths break grounds for US$3,000 intellectual center

A ground breaking ceremony for the construction of an intellectual center value more the US$3,000 has been held in Barclyville, Grand Kru County, southeast Liberia.

Under the banner Grand Kru County Intellectual Forum or “Ageewulu” in the local vernacular, it will be the first forum since the formation of the county in 1984.

Media consultant Mr. James Myking Suah, says in the local dialect, Ageewulu means "Come Let’s Talk", adding that it is intended to promote economic, social, political, sports, education, security and developmental issues concerning Grand Kru, Liberia and the world at large.

Mr. Suah continues that the forum invites relevant actors to discuss or explain their scope of operations in the county and to also speak on variety of issues. He says if completed, the center will have the capacity to host over 150 persons and will contain three offices, situated in Barclayville, Wapleken community.

He calls on well-meaning citizens of the county to provide moral and financial support to buttress the initiative embarked on by cross section of young people in Grand Kru.

Mr. Suah lauds Grand Kru County Superintendent Elizabeth Dempster and others that have identified with the forum financially.

Superintendent Dempster pledges her fullest support to ensure that the forum is erected up to standard.

“I am grateful that young people in my county today are thinking on holding discussions that will promote peace and development to move the county forward” she notes. Editing by Jonathan Browne

AfDB, IsDB sign 2bn deal

The African Development Bank (AfDB) and the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) have signed a landmark agreement to strengthen partnership at country level.

Both parties have agreed to jointly pull together the sum of US $2 billion over the next three years to finance projects in agriculture and food security, renewable energy, small and medium enterprises, and human development (health and education).

To realize the shared objective of the agreement, the IsDB and the Bank agreed to each contribute US $1 billion over three years for joint activities focusing on these priority areas and sectors.

Speaking at the agreement signing ceremony at the AfDB headquarters in Abidjan, President of the African Development Bank, Akinwumi Adesina reaffirmed the Bank’s commitment and interest to build a stronger partnership with the Islamic Development Bank.

The IsDB will also engage with the Bank to implement the High 5s- the five areas in which the AfDB is focusing on to help accelerate Africa's economic transformation.

“Today’s meeting is about collaboration and partnership. AfDB and IsDB share common traits and the agreement we are signing is the highest with any development bank. We are very excited about the range of things we can do together and we are ready to work with you to move this movement,” Adesina said.

“We are going to work on a pipeline of projects in Africa stretching from agriculture to SMES, energy and human development. We need to create jobs for our women and youth.”

IsDB is among the largest contributors of co-financing to the Bank. The Bank and IsDB have co-financed projects valued at over US$ 2.5 billion for the period 2002—2016.

The AfDB has a country presence in 21 out of the 27 common member countries with IsDB. As part of the new agreement, AfDB and IsDB are to complement and make use of each other’s staff expertise at country-level.

The President of the Islamic Development Bank, Bandar Hajjar described the areas of partnership as crucial.“We look forward to working with the AfDB in moving SMEs towards industrialization, renewable energy and agriculture and food security. These areas will create jobs and lead to economic transformation and improve the lives of the people of Africa. SMEs can transform African economies from primary to industrial hubs,” Hajjar said.

The Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) is a multilateral development financing institution located in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. IsDB was founded in 1973 during the first Organisation of the Islamic Conference (now called the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation).-Press release

EU disburses US11.2m to Liberia

The European Union announced here Tuesday July 11, that it has disbursed EUR10 million about USD11.2 million to the Liberian Government to support its budget for 2017.

The EU said it had made the disbursement, which is the third payment under its budget support program to the Liberian government because it (Liberian Government) has made satisfactory progress in improving its public financial management.

The money, which was directly disbursed in to the government’s treasury account according Ambassador Tiina Intelmann, Head of the European Union Delegation to Liberia, is towards specific targets relating to security and rule of law in line with the Agenda for Transformation, the country’s medium-term development strategy.

This disbursement follows two previous payment under the EU's budget support programme after a first payment of EUR 29.2 million (USD 33 million) in 2015 and EUR 16 million (USD 18 million) in 2016.

"The EU gives this 10 million euro expecting that the Government will use it to provide Liberians with the vital public services they deserve and it has committed to provide: health, education, security and rule of law. I encourage the Government to continue improving the management of public finances and fight against corruption. In particular, I applaud the operationalisation of four pilot county treasuries, the establishment of a Civilian Complaints Board for the police and immigration services and improved access to justice through magistrates' courts and county courts for cases related to sexual and gender based violence. I encourage Government and the Judiciary to continue their efforts to better plan procurement for entities in the security and rule of law sector and to ensure that spending takes place as planned," Ambassador Tiina Intelmann said.

The European Union withheld EUR 2 million due to the Government of Liberia's failure or partial failure to meet indicators related to the timely publication of procurement plans for the Ministry of Justice and the Judiciary and spending less money than planned through entities in the security and rule of law sector.

The European Union's budget support programme for Liberia, known as a State-building Contract, was signed in May 2015. It was initially intended to support reforms in the security and rule of law sector in the context of the drawdown of the UNMIL peace-keeping mission. Due to the Ebola crisis, it was agreed with the Government of Liberia to modify the project so as to frontload much of the funds for the first payment in July 2015.

The State-building Contract has a total value of EUR 65 000 000 (USD 73 million) over three years. The EU contribution is allocated as follows:
EUR 62,000,000 – General budget support;
EUR 2,690,000 – EU contribution to Integrated Public Financial Management Reforms Programme, implemented through the World Bank;
EUR 300,000 – Technical assistance to build capacities within the Ministry of Finance in the implementation of the State Building Contract, implemented by the Overseas Development Institute.

The current disbursement of EUR 10 million is made up of two parts:

EUR 5 million is linked to four general conditions:
(i) satisfactory progress in the implementation the Agenda for Transformation;
(ii) implementation of a credible stability-oriented macro-economic policy;
(iii) satisfactory progress in the implementation of the Public Finance Management Reform Strategy; and
(iv) satisfactory progress with regard to the public availability of timely, comprehensive and sound budgetary information.
Payment of an additional EUR 5 million was triggered by the Government meeting the following performance indicators fully:
a) fiscal decentralisation implemented in four county treasuries;
b) Civilian Complaints Board established to strengthen the accountability and integrity of the Liberian security sector actors after UNMIL drawdown;
c) strengthened adjudication of sexual/gender-based violence as measured by an increased number of Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) cases tried in Bong, Lofa, Nimba, Maryland, Grand Kru, River Gee, Grand Gedeh and Sinoe;
d) magistrate courts in Bong, Nimba and Lofa increased the share of cases disposed of leading to more timely justice in the region; and partially meeting indicators related to:
e) disbursement according to spending plans by spending entities in the security and rule of law sector as expression of the financial commitment of Government to Security and Rule of law sector reforms;
f) Bureau of Immigration & Naturalization, Drug Enforcement Agency, Liberia National Fire Service, Liberia National Police and Liberia National Police Training Academy published procurement plans in a timely manner for FY2015/2016 as an element to improved budget execution.

CSA official seeks support for early childhood education

The Director for Public Relations at the Civil Service Agency (CSA), Moses Owen Browne, is calling on government to provide more support for early childhood education in Liberia. Serving as guest speaker at the formal closing of the Excellent Learning Foundation Academy (ELFA) in Monrovia over the weekend, Mr. Browne emphasizes that literacy for every child is a must in the country and needs urgent attention from government.

“It is proven that 90 percent f brain development happens before the age of five. Thousands of the children in Liberia today below age 5 and or above should be in school and learning. Sadly, this is notthe case for Liberia as over half of millions of our children are out of school”, he notes.

“I call on the Government of Liberia, the President; H.E. Mrs. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, national and international organizations to support with budgetary increment and join us raise awareness on early  childhood education and development. Liberia is going nowhere without quality education for its young population,” he continues.

Moses further stresses, “We have to double-up. We are in a major crisis and this emergency is education. We have limited time on our side. But, I believe we can make the difference through faith.”

He says it is disturbing to know that the country still has a large number of out-of-school children with an estimated 10-20 percent of children between the ages of 6-14 not enrolled in school, quoting statistics from the Ministry ofEducation.

Speaking on the topic: “Early Literacy: How Vital It Is To Our Recovery Process”, he says Liberia’s educational system is gradually improving after decades of uncivil conflict which led to the destruction of the  Country’s entire education sector.

“As a country, we are beginning to see wonderful improvements especially, with enrollment, retention and education infrastructure development however; funding for the sector has been very low something which has resulted to a weak system over the last decade.”

He urges parents to continue to support their children’s education, because education is the key to a world of possibility, saying, “With Education, you can open any closed door and overcome many challenges”, while encouraging students to take their learning very seriously.

World Bank Group seeks over $1 billion for women entrepreneurship

On the occasion of the G20 leaders’ summit, the World Bank Group announced the creation of an innovative new facility that aims to enable more than $1 billion to advance women’s entrepreneurship and help women in developing countries gain increased access to the finance, markets, and networks necessary to start and grow a business.

According to a dispatch, the United States initiated the idea for the facility and will serve as a founding member along with other donor countries.“This incredible facility will have a significant impact on women's economic development around the world,” United States President Donald Trump said. “It will help increase opportunities and economic growth while addressing unique barriers women entrepreneurs face. I am proud the United States is helping to lead support of this unprecedented initiative."

“Women’s economic empowerment is critical to achieve the inclusive economic growth required to end extreme poverty, which is why it has been such a longstanding priority for us,” World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim said. “This new facility offers an unprecedented opportunity to harness both the public and private sectors to open new doors of opportunity for women entrepreneurs and women-owned firms in developing countries around the globe.”

"‎Everyone benefits when women have the resources they need to participate fully in our economies and societies,” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said. “Our Government is determined to help women gain the tools they need to be successful entrepreneurs and leaders. This important investment will help women in developing countries to create jobs, build economies that work for everyone, and have a real and fair chance at success.”

“I am happy that this initiative for women presents real added value. I want to sincerely thank everyone who worked on it especially the President of the World Bank Jim Yong Kim and Ivanka Trump and others. We can see from the example of this Women’s Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative that the G20 is not just a two-day Summit, but that the G20 is a process”, Chancellor Merkel of Germany said. “And I don’t have the slightest doubt that under the leadership of Jim Kim that these will be truly valuable and productive investments.”

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said: “Women’s active participation in society is one of the pillars of Abenomics. Women’s empowerment and leadership will diversify and revitalize organization and societies. This facility embodies such belief in developing countries, and is promising initiative to achieve society where women shine.”

The Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi), the first World Bank-led facility to advance women’s entrepreneurship at this scale, will work to enable more than $1 billion of financing to improve access to capital, provide technical assistance, and invest in other projects and programs that support women and women-led SMEs in World Bank Group client countries. The goal of the facility is to leverage donor grant funding – currently over US$325 million – to unlock more than $1 billion in IFI and commercial financing by working with financial intermediaries, funds, and other market actors.

The dispatch says the World Bank Group was invited by the United States and Germany to create the facility, given the Bank Group’s deep experience, track record, and strong learning and innovation agenda. The initiative received strong donor support from Australia, Canada, China, Denmark, Germany, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, and the United States, enabling the Bank Group to take the facility from concept to Board endorsement within the year of the German G20 presidency.

Women entrepreneurs face numerous challenges to financing, owning, and growing a business, including limited access to capital and technology, a lack of networks and knowledge resources, and legal and policy obstacles to business ownership and development.

One of the major constraints limiting female-led enterprises is access to financial services. Nearly 70 percent of women-owned SMEs in developing countries are either shut out by financial institutions or are unable to receive financial services on adequate terms to meet their needs.


AfDB focuses on fashion industry in Africa

The African Development Bank (AfDB) is focusing on creating jobs for millions of women and youth in Africa. The AfDB has called for the empowerment of small and medium operators in the textiles, apparel and accessories sectors as a deliberate job creation strategy.

Recently, at the Small Business Indaba in Gauteng, South Africa, the AfDB main objective of the Small Business Indaba was to provide small, medium and micro- enterprises (SMMEs) with the tools and network to grow their manufacturing operations to the next level of innovation and job creation.

“Textile and clothing is the second largest sector in the developing world after agriculture. This sector is dominated by SMEs and holds the potential to create jobs for millions of women and youth across Africa,” Emanuela Gregorio, Gender Specialist at AfDB, said at the conference.

“The foundation of any long-lasting venture in Africa depends on the continuous empowerment of regional SMEs and young entrepreneurs. Governments, the private sector and international investors must consider Africa’s young people and SMEs central to the stability of their economies”, the AfDB official adds.

A large percentage of workers in the textile and clothing industry is made up of women. Because it is labor-intensive, it has great scope to offer employment and to transform the lives of many women and youth across Africa.

“In this context, we have developed a flagship initiative named Fashionomics to enable African women and youth operating in the textiles, apparel and accessories sector to develop and grow their businesses,” she noted.

The AfDB launched Fashionomics (the economics of fashion) initiative to increase Africa’s participation in the global textile industry supply chain. Fashionomics is an initiative to support the development of micro, small and medium- sized businesses (MSMEs) operating in the textile, apparel and accessories industry in Africa, with a focus on women and youth empowerment.

SMEs have the great potential of fuelling growth and spur job creation. Today, these small and growing businesses create around 80% of the region’s employment, establishing a new middle class and fuelling demand for new goods and services.

The Bank runs an SME programme designed to support micro, small and medium enterprises. The Bank is closely tracking its role in the continent’s inclusive development through its High-5 agenda (Light up and power Africa, Feed Africa, Industrialise Africa, Integrate Africa, and Improve the quality of life for the people of Africa).--Press release

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