Education for opportunity – empowering young men and women in the Sahel

The aim of the project is to integrate young adults into the national labour market as well as to facilitate the development of income generation activities. This will make gainful professional activities within their reach so that they can improve their living conditions sustainably.
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Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso
12.3714277
-1.5196603
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Dakar, Senegal
14.716677
-17.4676861
Burkina Faso, Senegal
Project duration
2021 - 2024
Financed by
  • Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation SDC
  • Liechtenstein Development Service (LED)
  • Hirschmann Foundation

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 project

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.

Objectives

  1. Dual basic vocational education and continuing training 
    Project activities are helping to establish two-year dual apprenticeship-based vocational training programmes focusing in particular on artisanal production and services.
  2.  Improved access to and strengthening of agricultural professions
    These trainings target young adults who are expected one day to take over the reins of their parents’ traditional family businesses. It is essential to modernise these traditional family businesses in the interest of food security, fighting poverty, and preventing mass rural migration to cities.
  3. Development of financial skills
    Project participants are taught the basics of saving and credit through interactive financial training. Their professional goals and economic activities will be rendered much more attainable through access to financial services and products such as savings and credit groups. This is particularly the case for those wishing to run their own businesses.

Expected Results

The regional project expects to achieve the following:

  •  outreach to 4,000 disadvantaged people, 40% of whom are women, in Senegal’ and to
  • 6,000 people (90% who are women) from poor circumstances in Burkina Faso.
  • 70% of young adults completing the trainings will find employment or start their own businesses.
  • 60% of savings and credit cooperative members will have enhanced their economic activities thanks to improved access to finance