Sierra Leone’s Firestarter Initiative
‘Young people have boundless energy and skills,’ says Morris, founder and director of Sierra Leone’s Sensi Tech Innovation Hub. ‘It’s important to give them the best chance at a successful life through harnessing this talent.’
The bedrock project at Sensi Tech Innovation Hub in Freetown is the Firestarter Initiative which looks at new ways of solving issues faced by young people – in particular, the country’s 70% youth unemployment rate.
It identifies organisations which have the potential to upskill and empower young people to seek employment, finding innovative ways to help them to develop market-based solutions to the challenges they face in their communities, as well as driving them to contribute to a sustainable economy, and craft a future for themselves. It also provides small grants to businesses.
‘Through the training provided, young people are able to increase their knowledge and skills in ICT, literacy, business and events, advanced computer training and media, as well as networking opportunities and mentors, which goes a long way in terms of helping with skills for employment,’ explains Morris.
Training courses are provided to young people across Sierra Leone through the project, giving creative entrepreneurs the chance to use the skills they’ve learned through the programme to successfully develop and expand their businesses, and create jobs.
It has so far supported the development of 15 businesses – from passion fruit farms, to tailoring business, Abie’s Fashion, which employs six other people.
Through building a community of more than 1,000 young people, the project has also been able to put the infrastructure in place to help create employment for them – such as construction work at Le Plastics Recycling Centre, work at an eco-tourism project at John Obey beach, and employment at the programme’s ICT training centre.
All of these projects are possible thanks to support and funding through the Firestarter Initiative. As Morris explains, young people ‘deserve the opportunities to create their futures’.
ABOUT THE QUEEN’S YOUNG LEADERS GRANTS PROGRAMME
The Queen’s Young Leaders Programme has awarded grants to eligible organisations in selected countries across the Commonwealth.
These projects are led by, or focused on, young people and provide opportunities for them to learn new skills, secure employment, create enterprises or have a say in decisions affecting their future.
The Programme is working with young people in Bangladesh, Jamaica, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, the United Kingdom, and Zambia. Our grants aim to ensure that young people are better qualified and able to articulate their needs, so they can influence key decision makers and create lasting positive change in their communities.