From the perspective of young people in Liberia, agriculture does not offer sufficient opportunities to earn income and support their economic and social advancement. Their engagement in the sector is also inhibited by the absence of support services to build their entrepreneurial capacity in agriculture.
Making Cents International worked with 40 community-based youth groups to build the agribusiness capacity and agro-entrepreneurship skills of 1,200 rural youth in Liberia. The modular curriculum developed for this project drew on our initial assessment, which identified the needs and interests expressed by youth.
The curriculum built the range of soft and hard skills that young entrepreneurs need to be successful. It took youth through three consecutive rounds of skill development and facilitated the applied experience of practicing business in their communities and marketplaces. Following each round, youth participated in an extensive debrief, where normal business-venture “setbacks” were explained and further problem solving was explored.
Through this approach, enterprising youth were better prepared to anticipate and meet challenges and increase their resiliency. Trainees that demonstrated good business skills qualified for agribusiness grants that assisted them to start up and run small enterprises. More than 440 youth qualified for individual start-up grants.
During the project, Making Cents responded to new food insecurities arising from the Ebola crisis and built resiliency by providing additional training for youth in technical agricultural and enterprise skills, while supporting them with garden starter kits.