By François Lacombe

The Board of Directors of the African Development Fund, the concessional window of the African Development Bank Group, approved a $19.95 million grant for an initiative to provide livelihood for Sierra Leone’s women and youth.

The “Job Creation for Youth and Women in Climate Smart Agriculture Value Chains and Waste Management” project,” targets value chains where the youth and women are more active, such as cassava and fisheries.

The grant, part of the Transition Support Facility’s Pillar 1, aims to tackle the root causes of fragility and insecurity in Sierra Leone. In addition, the Global Center on Adaptation will provide a grant of $159,600 for technical assistance in developing adaptation strategies, including waste management policies.

Halima Hashi, the Bank Group’s Country Manager in Sierra Leone, emphasized that 70 percent of project beneficiaries will be women, promoting gender equality and economic empowerment.

Specifically, the project will focus on:

  • Enhancing entrepreneurial skills in smart agriculture and waste-management value chains;
  • Improving access to funding for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), economic groups and cooperatives led by young people and women;
  • Expanding market access for youth and women-led MSMEs;
  • Building institutional capacity to improve the business environment and service delivery for entrepreneurs.

Key targets :

  • Improving funding access for 700 MSMEs;
  • Strengthening entrepreneurial and digital skills for 2,500 people in the cassava and fisheries value chains (70 percent of them women);
  • Training 1,000 people in waste-management value chains (250 of them women);
  • Facilitating business linkages between 700 MSMEs and large businesses;
  • Creating a digital marketplace benefitting 5,000 smallholder farmers and 4,850 value chain MSMEs.

The project aims to create 9,200 jobs, strengthen climate change adaptation capacity for 3,500 youth and women, and increase MSME revenues by at least 10 percent.

This initiative aligns with Sierra Leone’s BIG FIVE Agenda and medium-term National Development Plan (2024-2030), which targets creating 500,000 new youth jobs by 2030. It also supports the African Development Bank’s Ten-year Strategy (2024-2033) and its Country Strategy Paper (2020-2024) for Sierra Leone.