Chad: Development of young entrepreneurs

The Lake Chad basin is a freshwater reservoir shared by five countries - Cameroon, Nigeria, Niger, the Central African Republic and Chad. In the 1960s, Lake Chad covered an area of 25,000 square kilometres. This area has been significantly reduced by the effects of climate change, demographic change and competition between the various uses of the resource (agriculture, livestock, fisheries, energy production). This decline, which has a negative impact on agriculture, livestock and fisheries, poses a major threat to the well-being of the population in the basin. Agricultural production and (already problematic) access to food could be seriously affected by climate change in the coming years. The testimony of Mr Adja Kadjila, a millet breeder from the village of Moutourwa (one of the largest growing areas in the region), is very eloquent - "I waited for the rain without success. The sun destroyed my whole field. I will certainly not have enough millet this year.

Our project supports the vocational training of young people. We encourage them to organize into groups in which they are trained to become young entrepreneurs in gardening and fishing. In each group, the project offers agricultural training in horticulture. Each group member has access to a piece of land where they can plant their own garden. The project offers start-up assistance (operating funds) so that each of them can start their own farm. For those interested in fishing, fishing materials and equipment for fish processing (drying) are purchased in groups. The project also provides marketing support so that group members can market their products together.

The beneficiaries are municipalities living in 4 regions of the Lake Chad basin. The total population is estimated at 144 493, of whom 25 287 are young people (between 15 and 24 years). The direct beneficiaries are 500 young people organised in 28 youth enterprise development groups. It is essentially a rural population with an estimated poverty rate of 61%. Most young people in the region have little formal education. In fact, it is estimated that less than 33% of school-age children actually attend school.

The project will address a total of 500 young people directly, 420 of whom are young people interested in vegetable growing and 80 in fishing. Young girls will make up about 20% of the total. By the end of the second year of project implementation, at least 24 functioning groups of young vegetable gardeners will be formed within the municipalities of the project area. In selected villages of the project area, 10 fully functional arable farming schools will be established in the vegetable growing sector. By the end of the three-year project period, at least 500 young people will be involved as entrepreneurs in the horticulture or fisheries sectors as part of the Youth Entrepreneurship Initiative.

This is how we proceed:

1. Organizational and structural strengthening of groups for the development of youth enterprises:
In the second year, several workshops will be organized to enable them to understand in detail what youth entrepreneurship is all about and what contribution the project can make. Discussing group statutes, keeping group records, moderating group meetings, planning and evaluating joint activities, keeping a group account, developing business plans, mobilizing resources for investment.

2. Strengthening the capacities in the production technology:
For the future gardeners the development of production capacities is carried out in the agricultural schools. In the first year 4 agricultural schools were established, which will be technically strengthened in the second year. Three further arable farming schools will be put into operation in the course of the second year. The training covers the most important phases of the production process: soil selection and preparation, establishment and maintenance of tree nurseries, transplantation and maintenance (irrigation, weeding, fertilisation, plant health), harvesting. Similar trainings are offered to the fishing groups - selection of catch material, fishing techniques, processing of fishery products, storage of fish.

3. Capacity building in packaging and marketing of hermits:
333 young gardeners/fishermen are being trained in sorting and packaging for the market. To facilitate the marketing of products, a joint marketing structure is organised and they are trained in how to carry out elementary market studies and maintain quality control in order to strengthen the brand of the young entrepreneurs and gain a presence on the market. Plans are being developed to establish business contacts and negotiate sales contracts with potential customers.