Training Beninese youth in agribusiness
Cybelle Agossou, the youngest of a family of six children, decided to enroll in a practical training course to become self-employed and help her parents. Today, at age 20, she manages a small soap-making business and employs four people.
Cybelle took an 18-month training course at the Songhai Center in Porto-Novo, the political capital of Benin. Supported by UNDP and the government, this institution works towards reducing youth unemployment and underemployment by training young people in organic agriculture, food processing, and natural resource management. It also facilitates access to land, seeds, and tools to allow young people to support themselves in their community and to prevent rural exodus.
- 800 vulnerable young people were trained as agricultural entrepreneurs.
- More than 50% of the young graduates are now self-employed.
- The agricultural sector represents approximately 32% of GDP and nearly 70% of the country’s jobs.(Source: World Bank)
After finishing her training, Cybelle started her business with a 100,000 CFA Francs (about 200 US dollars) loan from her parents. “I used this money to buy the equipment I needed: molds, cutting table, containers, essential oils, lye, etc.” she explained.
Cybelle is proud to be a businesswoman.“I still have 230,000 CFA Francs in my account after paying back the loan and, most of all, I am proud to employ four people, who each receive a monthly salary of 40,000 CFA Francs.”
“Songhai welcomed me with open arms,” she says, specifying that she intends to share her know-how with other young people. “I hope that poverty will soon decline in our country thanks to the expansion of this program,” she adds.
The Government of Benin signed a funding agreement with UNDP for the amount of 51 million US dollars to strengthen and create new centers throughout the country. UNDP is providing additional funding of 1.5 million dollars as part of its regular resources.
“In order to sustainably reduce poverty, Benin needs to achieve minimum economic growth of seven percent per year. This will happen only by increasing productivity and agricultural production,” stressed Ms. Nardos Bekele-Thomas, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in Benin.
Since its inception, the project trained 800 vulnerable young people and over 50% of the young graduates are already self-employed. “When they finish their 18-month training course, they know how to manage a business,” says Guy Louèkè, business manager of the Porto-Novo Center.