Mali faces several major challenges related to youth employment. These are: (i) the rapid increase in the working-age population and the difficulties of finding jobs to young people, (ii) the important place taken by informal jobs, (iii) the low proportion of formal jobs in the private and public sectors, (iv) the low human capital accumulation, (v) the strong gender inequalities reflecting the differences in employment access between men and women in terms of occupation rates that are not in favor of women, (vi) the post-conflict situation in which the country has been since the outbreak of the security crisis in 2012, and (vii) the migratory challenge in relation with the employment problem.
Difficulties accessing funding for startups and SMEs are a particular obstacle to investment. SMEs are struggling to meet the financial and non-financial conditions laid down by financial institutions, but there is also a continuing mistrust of financial institutions to take more risk in Mali by providing credit to SMEs. This situation is even more pronounced for young people starting their businesses.
The project's vision is therefore to promote entrepreneurship as an alternative to youth unemployment and to give young people excluded from conventional financial services a chance to take up business. This vision also considers the proven correlation between juvenile delinquency and poor access to financial resources for young people.
Entrepreneurship can reduce youth unemployment and produce satisfactory socio-economic outcomes. But there are obstacles for young people who want to start and develop a business. In this context, the development of an environment conducive to the entrepreneurship of young Malians leaving vocational and technical training centers and the like is an urgent need.
The project targets 18 to 35-year-olds coming out of technical and vocational training centers, with the ambition of launching business projects that value innovations. The project also targets young entrepreneurs (18 to 35 years old) already in business and with a potential for business growth. The overall target is that 40% of supported entrepreneurs are women.
The project support is translated into the following key activities:
FACEJ will also support the sharing of experiences and networking of young entrepreneurs.
The purpose of this commitment is to support young graduates from a technical, vocational or higher education institution to start their business in their desired industry. The main expected effects are (i) the creation of businesses by trained young people is facilitated by the support and funding mechanism, (ii) the companies created by young people are economically viable.
The project aims to create 200 viable enterprises in the intervention zones (Sikasso Region and Bamako District).