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Youth & Economic Empowerment

New Opportunities for Youth in Liberia

A Plan-funded program in Liberia has trained 250 youth to start and run their own businesses.

The West African country of Liberia has been forced to its knees after years of civil war, followed by the devastating Ebola epidemic.

The inhabitants of the big city slums were the most affected. Many lost their jobs. Now, opportunities for young people are few and far between.

"People stopped touching each other, and no one would buy anything that others had touched,” said 20-year-old Nora. “I could not sell my oranges. The four bags of fruit that I had spent all my money on rotted and had to be thrown away. It was all my savings. During Ebola, we survived on the food we were given by our neighbors, family, and friends.”

Ebola hit Liberia hard. It was already one of the world's poorest countries, but the country's situation deteriorated sharply. In some parts of Liberia, youth unemployment was as high as 90 percent.

However, with support from Plan International, young people from Liberia are finding alternative ways to generate income.

Six hundred of the poorest and most at-risk young people between ages 15-35 and their families will receive training on establishing savings and loans groups. They will also be given the opportunity to start their own small businesses.

When young people have a revenue base, they can both support their families and escape crime and poverty.

So far, the project has trained 250 young people to start and run their own businesses. Many of the young people, like Nora, lost their savings and income during the Ebola epidemic.

After training, the beneficiaries receive entrepreneurial grants so they can either re-establish their old businesses or set about creating new ones.

"I am glad we have the opportunity to make a better future,” said Nora. “I know I can have a better life and help my parents to support the whole family. Just give me the chance, I'll take it.”

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