Local Youth Group To Help Underprivileged Young Women In Liberia

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Report by Henry Karmo, [email protected]

Monrovia – In recognition of the growing need to improve the business sector and enhance the entrepreneurial skills of women in Liberia, Youth Crime Watch of Liberia in partnership with Peace Child International, has launched “Be The Change Academy (BTCA)” with the sole purpose of nourishing illiterate women with basic business skills and creating a friendly avenue that will guide them in making smart decisions for the future.

Established in 2004 with the goal of towering grassroots’ participation in leadership and peace building activities after the brutal civil war in Liberia, Youth Crime Watch of Liberia through its BTCA program, has trained over 3,194 illiterate women between 2013 2017 with funding from the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad).

From 2018 thru 2019, 1,441 women in Liberia will be reached.  The first cohort which is expected to graduate 330 illiterate women from 5 local communities in Paynesville will be followed by the second cohort to be conducted in Sanoyea, Bong County and Paynesville, Montserrado County respectively.

This will bring us to the completion of 9 cohorts reaching 3,524 beneficiaries by the end of 2018.

The program primarily targets illiterate women of local communities. These women are nurtured in informal gatherings: creating a space for them to keep focused and collaborate with one another. Trainers conduct trainings through interactive sessions with the aid of tools- a descriptive poster innovatively designed to print pictures in the trainees’ mind while helping them to relate to happening in their local markets and lives.

“At the onset of the training, participants found difficulties in understanding the model because of their level of comprehension. However, we became more engaged and practical during the training sessions.   The model is tailored in a way that it creates picture in the trainees’ mind and enable them to think as well,” Haja Kemba, one of the BTCA trainers said.

“The topics we covered were market research, business plan, budgeting, profiteering and loss. These interactive lectures guided the trainees to understand the importance of laws, culture, competition and environment before starting a business as well as budgeting, marketing and profiteering techniques to improve their businesses.

“At the end of the 10 weeks training, the trainees recognized their pitfalls and clearly understood the significance of business management,” Haja stressed.

For his part, Edwin Kamara, Program Manager of YCWL, said 1,500 business plans have been supported since the inception of the program.

Mr. Kamara said group has worked with both the ministries of Education; and Youth and Sports in enhancing their technical and vocational programs.

“We have conducted trainings in three counties: Saynoyea Bong County, Paynesville, Monsterrado County and Buchanan, Grand Bassa County. The second phase of the business management training for 2018 is expected to benefit additional 595 illiterate women in Bong and Montserrado Counties”, Mr. Kamara concluded.

In addition to the training, Youth Crime Watch of Liberia facilitates linkages for beneficiaries to access diverse service providers to create opportunity aimed at improving their businesses. The organization is currently negotiating with financial institutions for graduates to access credit facility.

Ms. Darlyn Quaye, a resident of VOA community and 2018 beneficiary of the BTCA program said that the training was helpful in a lot of ways and appreciated the organization for such an amazing initiative.

“We learned in a friendly environment that united and connected us with the lecture”, she said. Ms. Qaye who is owner of a small-scale soap making outlet catalogued the lessons learned during the training and said she is thinking about opening a beauty salon.

“Due to the lack of beauty salon in our community, many women walk long distances to fix their hair”, Ms. Quaye said. “I am going to use my business and beautician skills to run the salon,” she stressed.

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