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Young Women Enterprise, job creation program launched

By mylbsonline staff
Some  would be beneficiaries young ladies
Some would be beneficiaries young ladies

( At least one thousand five hundred young women in Paynesville City, Montserrado County are expected to benefit from a job creation program known as “Be The Change Academy (BTCA).”

BTCA aims at creating economically stimulating jobs and enterprises for young women through intensive business skills training and guidance.

The job creation program is being run by the Youth Crime Watch of Liberia, with support from the Norwegian Government.

The Norwegian Government is providing its support to the program through Peace Child International (UK Based).

It was launched recently at Youth Crime Watch’s Young Women Empowerment Center in Wood Camp, Paynesville City.

Liberia is now third, next to two other Mano River Union Countries, including Guinea and Sierra Leone, where the two year program is currently being implemented.

The program also seeks to provide young women, between ages 15 and 35, with marketing, business management and accounting skills, as well as access to finance for start-up-capital to run their business enterprises.

BTCA Manager, Ruby Zoe Folly, told reporters that the first phase of the program, targets one hundred fifty girls.

According to Mr. Folly, the first phase of the program started early November, 2013 and will run for three months.

Ruby said: “Upon completion of the training, participants will receive certificate of participation, and will also be qualified to apply for an interest free loan to start their businesses.”

“The loan is revolving, therefore beneficiaries will be required to pay back the loan, in other to pass the opportunity on to other qualified girls,” she also said.
"We want them see it as a gateway for young women to be empowered," said Ruby, as she encouraged girls who meet the 15 and 35 year criteria to take advantage of the program.”

Impact on Young People; National and Regional Security

“Be The Change Academy” has attracted dignitaries of the Liberian Government, including Foreign Minister, Augustine Ngafuan, who was at the launch.

"But to see that without waiting for a formal political body like the Mano River Union, Liberian young people, Guinean young people, Sierra Leonean Young People are partnering to impact on the lives of young people in the region. Let me say, you guys deserve tons of congratulations," Minister Ngafuan noted.

He said: “The program was tackling a thematic issue- youth unemployment, something now triggering frustration and violence among young people in Liberia.”

The Liberian Foreign Minister praised the organization for its decision to buttress government's efforts in addressing high unemployment among Liberia youth.

“The initiative was essential, because joblessness among young people remains a potential threat to the peace and stability in the region,” Minister Ngafuan also observed.

The Minister further noted: “Though government was addressing the situation, it is a huge challenge that needed the involvement of Youth Crime Watch of Liberia through Be the Change Academy.”

"The BTCA approach, very simple but very creative, is something that we must laud. I told you, you have my unflinching support towards this effort. Whatever you think I can do to make this program expand within the limits of my powers, please let me know," the Liberian Foreign Minister added.

Minister Ngafuan further disclosed that the program would not only impact the lives of individual beneficiaries, but the peace and security in the region.

"So, when you are undertaking initiatives like this, you are not just giving opportunities to few young girls, but you are impacting on the peace and security of our country. And by impacting on the peace and security of Liberia, indirectly you are impacting on peace and security of our region".

He assured the youth-led initiative of government and the Manu River Union's support to the project and noted: “Be The Change Academy was also exceptionally unique, because it was targeting a more vulnerable population, including the young women.”

Also speaking at the program, Representatives of the Embassy of Cote D'Ivoire in Liberia and UNMIL Civil Affairs overwhelmingly welcomed the initiative and pledged their support.

For his part, the Manu River Union Ambassador to Liberia, Lawrence Morris, on behave of the MRU Chair, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, thanked the UK partner, David Woollcombe.

Ambassador Morris noted: “The importance of the Be The Change was taking the MRU approach and it is the best effort in fostering change and addressing the issue of joblessness and sustaining security in the region.

“I will work along with my counterparts to see how best we can move this forward,” he said.
The program brought together delegates and other dignitaries from Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.

Shift from Job-dependency to Job creation

In a brief presentation on the overview of the BTCA, Mr. Woollcombe, said:   “The initiative was all about enabling young people to shift from job-dependency syndrome to job creation.”

“The idea has been successful in many parts of the world, helping young people create books and organize world youth congresses, in partnership with the older people for over thirty years now,” the Founder and Executive Director of Peace Child International also said.

“The Be The Change Academy vision empowers young people and gives them responsibility," the UK partner told a mixed audience of local citizens, senior government officials and foreign diplomats during the launching program.

Mr. Woollcombe expressed deep conviction that the initiative was particularly essential for post-war Liberia, where unemployment among young people is the highest ever in the country's history.

"And now of course we face the biggest challenge of all, which is creating jobs for young people in the shrinking job market. The situation was not only unique to Liberia” noted Woollcombe.

Quoting World Bank statistics, he added: “Over 1.2 billion young people around the world are unemployed, while there are only two hundred million jobs, thus stressing the need to creating a billion more new jobs in the next decade.

"But actually what was very exiting is that hundreds of young people around the world came up with their own answers and so, they're taking responsibility for themselves,” Mr. Woollcombe said.

“That's what Zuo D. Taylor (Youth Crime Watch Liberia Boss) and the others from Kenema and Conakry are doing to take responsibility of themselves by creating their own jobs."


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