Young people in Mali face employment challenges. Fewer jobs are created in the economy than are needed to keep pace with the growing population. In addition, there is a mismatch between skills acquired through education and the needs of the markets. All of this leads to high levels of unemployment. Yet, there is a demand for skilled people in key labour intensive economic sectors, like horticulture and waste management.
Mali’s population is young. It is estimated that around 60% is under 25 years old. Each year around 300,000 young people are entering the labor market. However, the formal sector employs only 5% of the labor force. The informal sector offers the greatest number of jobs, however, they are often precarious and low paid. The political crisis that hit Mali in 2012 worsened the situation, after which the number of young Malians trying to search for better lives in Europe increased dramatically.
Creating opportunities for youth employment
In order to address youth unemployment, ICCO and its partners are working on creating opportunities for youth employment. We do that in the project ‘Youth employment create opportunities at home in Mali’ in which we develop value chains in among other the horticulture and waste management sectors. The project aims to train 8,620 young people, including 2,586 women and 1,293 returnees.
The first year of implementation, APEJ, the Malian governmental agency in charge of youth employment and a partner of the project, was solely responsible for the entire selection process. In January 2018, the agency launched a call for applicants which was broadcasted on TV, radio, social media and worship places. The applications were registered at all the administrative levels (communes, cercles and villages) then centralised and examined by a central selection committee.
The selected youth follow training in their selected branch of activity, which are waste management, horticulture, food processing and handicrafts. Besides the technical trainings, youth also receive business management and life skills. In addition, they are coached during the whole process to help them succeed. At the end, youth receive a stipend that they can use to buy inputs and tools that will allow them to kick-start their career or activity (for example setting up a start-up).
The response of young people to join the program has been overwhelming: more than 31,000 young persons (aged 18 to 40) applied to the first call! That is 13 times the number of openings available for the entire year. From this number, 2,400 youth were selected and received training, of which 42% were women and 58% men. All the project specific areas received applicants, with food processing receiving the highest number of candidates (38%).
A second call was launched in November 2018 which led to the selection of a new cohort of 3,000 youths to be trained and coached so they can start their revenue making activities. This time, ICCO and APEJ shared responsibilities for the selection process in the Kayes and Koulikoro regions which are under ICCO’s responsibility. Training has yet to start for the second cohort.
Trainings in horticulture and waste management
In the horticulture training, the participants learned about good horticulture practices, soil preparation, spatial planning and fencing, grafting methods as well as the maintenance of cultures in theory and practice.
Photo: Demonstration of grafting technique
One of the participants was Maimouna Bagayoko (34 years), who is a marketeer in horticulture products. Maimouna: "I am involved in the marketing of vegetables, but thanks to the training I became passionate about growing food myself. I want more than anything else to get started and increase my income."
Photo: Maimouna Bagayoko practising grafting technique in the technical training
The waste management skills training focused on two specific topics: composting and waste collection. In composting, the young people learned about waste, sorting, the composting process and the use of compost. The practical course for pre-collection focused on collection equipment, the importance of using protective equipment, logistics and transport, waste disposal as well as customer (household) search techniques.
Photo: Initiation of young people to sorting, by professor Seydou Traoré Seydou, OYEM trainer and professor of Circular economics & Waste management
Zakaria Koné (27 years), is one of the participants in the training and holds a Bachelor in Agropastoralism. Zakaria: “I am fulfilling my dream of having my own company in the field of waste collection. The project has helped me to develop my business management, and life skills as well as waste management skills. Thanks to the support of the project, I will be better equipped to develop my activity. I hope, in the future, to be able to hire other unemployed young people".
Photo: Zakaria Koné
About the project ‘Youth Employment Create Opportunities at Home in Mali’
The project ‘Youth employment create opportunities at home in Mali’ (EJOM, acronym for the French title ‘L’Emploi des Jeunes crée les Opportunités ici au Mali’) started in 2017 and will last till 2021. It is implemented by a consortium made of ICCO, WASTE, APEJ and SNV (lead). Funded by the EU Trust Fund for Africa of EuropeAid, the project aims to train 8,620 young people, including 2,586 women and 1,293 returnees and create 6,472 jobs. The project is being implemented in the regions of Koulikoro, Kayes, Gao and the district of Bamako.
This article was published with content and photos from Ms Véronique Samaké, Project Communication Monitoring and Evaluation Officer at SNV, and contribution from Sissiman Sy, ICCO Project Officer in Koulikoro.