Connecting young people to opportunities: promising models in southern Senegal
Aliou Cissé, coach of the Lions of Teranga, had the opportunity to appreciate innovative initiatives supported by UNICEF in southern Senegal
TAMBACOUNDA/KOLDA(Senegal), February 10th, 2023- 17-years-old Bineta Diallo, has chosen the sector of processing local products, while Fanta Sabaly, 18 years old, focuses on horticulture. These two girls are part of the second cohort of young beneficiaries of the "Entrepreneurs at 20 years old" initiative led by the academy inspectorates (Ministry of National Education) in partnership with the NGO “La Lumière”, supported by UNICEF and implemented in the regions of Tambacounda and Kolda.
This initiative aims to contribute to strengthening the self-employability of young girls and boys through a training system combining theory (20%) and practice (80%) on promising and potentially profitable sectors such as poultry farming, horticulture, fish farming and the processing of local products.
"We do not only stop at the training phase. We help young people develop their business plan, we support them in terms of marketing and have agreements with local banks on financing possibilities," explained Ibrahima Sory Diallo, head of the NGO La Lumière.
"I have personally been prospecting with a number of traders to explore how I could sell the products. There is real potential and I believe in it," said Bineta, who is eager to start a business at the end of her training, and whose goal is above all to contribute to the family's income.
"Young people are Senegal's first assets. We have a generation of youth who wants to learn and undertake. Youth who wants to move forward and contribute to the development of the country by exploiting the specific potential of their region. I am proud of you," said Aliou Cissé, coach of the Lions of Teranga, on a field mission with UNICEF in southern Senegal.
Not everyone can be an academician, people cannot all be great university teachers and students, but that does not in any way detract anyone from their ability to succeed in life and to stand on their own," he continued.
A total of 240 young girls and boys have been enrolled in this initiative, with early signs of success and success among the participants, such as the example of Mariama, from Kolda region, who has just obtained her driving license for heavy agricultural machinery.
The doors to the future are in girls' hands
Still in the company of UNICEF, Aliou Cissé had the opportunity to also meet with young adolescent girls who are beneficiaries of the initiative called "Salmaïtou", in a youth center (teen advice center), in the city center of Kolda.
Salmaitou, is an initiative that aims at introducing young adolescent girls to digital, innovations – including coding – and to strengthen their skills in several facets: self-confidence, communication, teamwork, and adaptation to change.
In the middle of the room, Fatoumata Diao, 13 years old, Oumou Koultoum, 20years old, and Ramatoulaye Barry, 21 years old, are developing an awareness story, through an application called "scratch" producing series of animations adapted to the context of the region.
"Here, we are producing an animation on the issue of female genital mutilation, a practice that unfortunately remains very rooted here in the Kolda region. We will use it through social media to encourage an online conversation around this topic and raise awareness among our peers about the dangers of this practice," explained Fatoumata.
"When we open up opportunities for girls, we not only expand the boundaries of their dreams, but we also expand the perspectives of their families and communities. When a girl succeeds, her entire community wins," said Silvia Danailov, while stressing the importance of developing successful models, in order to encourage their scaling.
"These initiatives, whether 'entrepreneurs at 20' or 'Salmaitou' are certainly on a limited scale for the moment, but their impact on young beneficiaries is extraordinary. We call for the mobilization of all partners so that together we can scale them up and reach more children and young people," she concluded.