YEP stands for Youth Empowerment Project. It is the official name of the project. The implementing agency is the International Trade Centre.

The Gambia Youth Empowerment Project addresses the economic root causes of irregular migration by supporting youth employment and entrepreneurship and creating economic opportunities in selected value chains.

The project is focused on capacity building. YEP takes a market-led approach to improving the skills and employability of young Gambians according to demands of the job market while simultaneously creating employment opportunities along value chains.

In addition to entrepreneurship and skills development YEP facilitates access to finance plus value addition in key sectors such as agribusiness, tourism, ICT, fashion, construction (compressed stabilized earth blocks) and textile & fashion.

Overall, YEP aims to support 4000 youths in skills development and 4000 youths in entrepreneurship and access to finance. The project will also support 500 micro medium and small enterprises to become more competitive and create jobs. At the end of the project YEP is expected to help create 2000 new jobs and improve 2000 existing jobs.

The Youth Empowerment Project is a four-year project (2017-2020) funded by the European Union Emergency Trust Fund for Africa. YEP has a total budget of EUR 11 million.

Nationwide (all seven regions of the Gambia). In the first two years of implementation (2017-18), YEP puts a stronger focus on Greater Banjul Area (GBA), North Bank Region (NBR), Lower River Region (LRR) and Central River Region (CRR). The project will expand its focus to other regions in the coming years.

Any young Gambian between the age of 15 to 35 years old. In addition, YEP provides capacity building to institutions and supports micro-small and medium sized enterprises to become more competitive and create more jobs.

• Youths (15-35 years as per Gambia's youth policy) are the primary beneficiaries of this project. They benefit both through direct and indirect assistance.

• Youths benefit from YEP directly in areas such as skills training, entrepreneurship, business development and access to funding (e.g. minigrant).

• Most of the training support goes through the YEP implementing partners

• YEP also supports youths indirectly, by strengthening institutions, making MSMEs more competitive and foster value addition in target sectors such agribusiness, ICT, tourism, fashion and alternative construction methods

It depends on the trainings and forms of support but it's always targeting youth. Some trainings such as training of trainers require more advanced knowledge. Many training opportunities are targeting directly low skilled youths often school dropouts or early school leaver.

The selection criteria and outreach strategy for specific programmes is set by YEP in cooperation with the respective implementing partners.

The assistance is demand driven. Beneficiaries need to apply and are selected based on compliance with criteria, need and motivation. Opportunities are advertised widely on the web, newspaper, social media, radio and regional youth structures.

While YEP is not a project specifically targeting returning migrants, returnees are eligible for support under YEP and, indeed, are encouraged to apply for opportunities.

As part of the collaboration with the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), we aim to provide timely and relevant information about new opportunities provided under the project.

The project is managed directly by the International Trade Centre which is the joint agency of the United Nations and the World Trade Organization. ITC has its office in Bakau. The main government counterparts are the Ministry of Trade, Industry Regional Integration and Employment as well as the Ministry of Youth and Sports. MOTIE is chairing the Project Steering Committee (PSC). MOYS is the co-chair.

Youth-centred and youth-led approach: YEP is not only a project for youth but also by youth. As such, youth actors are empowered and encouraged to participate in the implementation and decision-making bodies of the project – whether at the level of the steering committee or in technical working groups.

The project engages partners through memorandum of understanding and procurement contracts. The project also sources expertise in the form of consultants and experts. YEP is technical assistance project and ITC as the specialized organization of the United Nations provides direct support in different areas.

 1531 youths have benefitted from training and other forms of support. Over hundred youths are currently enrolled in training activities under the project and this is not yet reflected in this figure

• The support covers a wide range of areas including entrepreneurship, skills development, ICT, food safety, quality, packaging. Skills training offered so far focused on solar Installation and wiring, satellite installation and programming, CCTV installation and programming, laptop and mobile repairs, agro-processing, hospitality, tour guiding, construction with compressed stabilized earth blocks.

 7 Gambian institutions have improved training and support programmes for youths (curricula development, training of trainers, provision of training equipment, operational efficiency, monitoring and evaluation etc)

3 new curricula developed and validated by the private sector and NAQAA (GTHI hospitality certificate level: ITTOG and NCAC tour guiding, PIA and other institutions: garment construction)

• Under the partnership with The National Association of Corporate Credit Union (NACCUG), 44 mini-grants have already been approved and 37 disbursed (234 applications received so far)

425 MSMEs have benefitted from support including equipment (e.g. groundnut decorticators), quality support, marketing, business linkages etc

 A new skills centre focusing on training in garment construction has been inaugurated at the President’s International Awards (PIA). New industrial sewing machines have been dispatched and a new training curricular on Textile and Garment construction has already been validated.

The YEP strategy includes three main factors:

  1. Training under the project is market driven looking at the demands of the labour market. ITC in collaboration with the government and the private sector has adopted the youth and trade roadmaps which provides guidance on which occupations are highest in demand on the job market.
  2. The project also works with the implementing partners, i.e. the training institutions, to establish private sector partnerships and improve the employment prospects through placements etc. For instance, ITC has set up the Skills for Youth Employment Fund (SkYE fund) – where selected training intuitions have to demonstrate that at least 50% of their trainees gain employment, start their own business or venture into placement programs. Under this scheme ITC will retain a certain percentage of their contract based on performance and fulfilment of the conditions.
  3. Finally, YEP offers complementary support to youth to start-up their own business. The mini-grant is such as an example. Some new training programmes are also including start-up capital or equipment for successful graduates.

In parallel, ITC supports directly the MSMEs to become more competitive. Supporting the private sector is ultimately the best engine for sustainable job creation.

The project is still too young to start reporting on the jobs created. It will require some more time to see how the support translates into jobs. The reporting will start in 2019.

• YEP strengthens the capacities of existing institutions both public and private and channels much of the implementation through these institutions. The approach seeks to maximize knowledge transfer.

• Whenever national expertise is not available and international expertise is required, ITC engages a partner institution that can absorb the knowledge through capacity-building, training of trainers etc.

 To date ITC has engaged 25 partners that are all working towards creating opportunities for youths:

   ✔ To promote entrepreneurship and access to finance YEP works with GIEPA and EMPRETEC, NEDI, GYIN, GYCC, the Start-up Incubator and the National Association of Corporate Credit Unions of the Gambia – NACCUG (7);

   ✔ In skills development we have already signed MOUs with Sterling Consortium, YMCA, GTMI, GTTI, Gambia Songhai Initiative, the National Youth Service Scheme (NYSS), Gambia Horticultural Enterprises (GHE), PIA and Realtech (9)

   ✔ In tourism sector YEP joined forces with GTB, GTHI, NCAC, ITTOG and ASSET (5)

   ✔ To improve quality of the produced YEP entered into partnerships with FSQA, TGSB and NARI (3)

   ✔ In the area of market linkages, YEP joined forces with GCCI and GYCC (2)

An individual applicant can benefit up to $1,000 or GMD 47,000

The mini grant scheme prioritises assets over cash. Moreover, the grantee needs to provide a guarantor that will be responsible for repayment of the grant in case the asset is not used for the purpose declared in the application.

The mini grant is to support grassroots entrepreneurs that need seed capital in the form of equipment, raw materials, etc. to boost their business with a potential for growth and job creation.

In addition, YEP is preparing to launch mini-loan scheme looking at more established businesses at medium scale level who portrays great potential for growth and increased job creation.

As of September 2018

• YEP will enrol another 1000 youths under the Skills for Youth Employment (SkYE) Fund – 8 implementing partners have been selected following a competitive process.

• YEP will launch of the mini-loan scheme

• YEP will make an investment to strengthen the packaging industry

• Agricultural equipment worth of 500’000 USD will be provided to selected rural MSME to improve value addition at farm-gate including primary, secondary and tertiary processing of groundnuts and cereals. We expect to create 600 direct jobs and 250-500 indirect jobs through this investment

• As part of YEP’s collaboration with the The Gambia Standard Bureau, six ISO 9001 national lead auditor’s have been certified – all youths, of course

• The minigrant is very popular. NACCUG has already received 234 applicants - 44 were approved and 34 have been disbursed

• In January 2018, YEP helped revive the Kankurang festival in Janjanbureh, more than 200 tourists came to see the traditional performances in January 2018.

• YEP and the Gambia Tourism Baord (GTB) are working in 3 communities to develop and promote community-based tourism (CBT) with youth trainers

• To promote and recognized youth entrepreneurship and business excellence, YEP supported the first rural youth awards which took place in 2017, it was successfully repeated in 2018

• A new Gambian market – the Good Market – will be launched this summer.