The Sahel zone extends for over 5,500 km from Mauritania in the west to Sudan in the east. The region faces immense challenges associated with climate change, population growth, and the spread of terrorism. Additionally, it is marked by a local economy that is largely dependent on the primary sector (agriculture and animal husbandry) and dominated by informal family-owned SMEs. It also suffers from an inaccessible education system that is unable to guarantee high-quality basic education to all.
The most important task is to strengthen the professional skills of project participants and help them integrate into the labour market. The ultimate objective is for an effective and inclusive education and labour market integration programme to become firmly rooted in Sahelian countries after the project ends. The project focuses in particular on vulnerable unemployed youth who despite having been excluded from the formal vocational education system are still motivated to complete vocational training for their social and professional betterment.
First, the project supports local partners to develop technical education alternatives and professional agricultural training courses that will help to establish young agro-entrepreneurs. Second, it teaches financial skills to ensure young men and women have a better chance at obtaining an initial professional qualification. In Burkina Faso, Mara Panga savings and credit cooperatives continue to collaborate closely with the Faîtière des Caisses Populaires du Burkina, a network of savings groups. They deploy Agents de Terrain (field agents) and give out loans from their own savings capital to their members, managing the loan disbursement, repayment, and other terms and conditions under the guidance of their field agents.
The regional project expects to achieve the following:
This project is financed by Liechtensteinischer Entwicklungsdienst, Hirschmann Stiftung, among other donors. As part of the Swisscontact Development Programme, it is co-financed by SDC (Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, Federal Department of Foreign Affairs FDFA).