Investing in rural youth is critical if they are to stay in rural areas and contribute to their development
Rome, 26 February 2014 – The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) will provide a grant of US$1.95 million to the Centre for Entrepreneurship Education and Development (CEED) to support creating opportunities for rural youth in West and Central Africa, beginning in Benin, Cameroon, Gambia and Nigeria.
Heather Spidell, President and CEO of CEED, and Michel Mordasini, Vice President of IFAD, signed the grant agreement today.
The global economic crisis has adversely impacted three key areas associated with sustainable development and affecting young people across the world: employment, enterprise and development funding. Youth constitute 70 per cent of Africa’s population and are keenly feeling the impact of the crisis. They face numerous challenges in their attempt to find decent employment, gain access to credit and create businesses. Many young people have creative ideas that could provide them with employment through enterprise development, but they lack the resources to realize their vision.
The aim of the new project is to enable young rural women and men to create sustainable farm and non-farm businesses by building their entrepreneurial capacities, through enhanced peer learning and access to complementary business development services. Young rural women and men, ages 15-35, who are involved in either agricultural production or activities associated with rural markets are the target group of this project. About 2,880 young agricultural entrepreneurs (“agripreneurs”) and 43,200 farm and non-farm rural young entrepreneurs would be trained, and 480 rural youth enterprises launched. In addition, 2,400 rural venture creation teams will be set up through which young entrepreneurs will be paired with mentors. Women will make up at least half of the participants.
From 26 to 28 February, a workshop will be organized at IFAD headquarters in Rome to review and finalize the implementation plan and key activities of this grant, including taking into account feedback on target country investment priorities. It will also be an opportunity for IFAD to learn and share experiences with the grant recipient (CEED) on rural youth operations.
The grant will be implemented by CEED with technical support of the Columbia Business School (CBS) and Susterra, Inc., as subrecipients. Key national implementing partners in each country and three major regional institutions (Songhai Center, Ecobank and the Africa Women’s Development Fund) will also be involved in the implementation.