FEATURE STORY June 17, 2019

Benin: Job Training and Small Grants Lift Up Young Entrepreneurs

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STORY HIGHLIGHTS

  • In Benin, 17,000 young school dropouts have successfully started a business with the help of a grant and business management and life skills training.
  • Like Christine, in the commune of Tchatchou who was able to open her hair salon thanks to a grant of CFAF 200,000.
  • Momentum continues as Benin joins the Sahel Women's Empowerment and Demographic Dividend Project, which, among other support, helps girls gain access to scientific and technological subjects and priority economic sectors.

TCHATCHOU, BENIN, June 17, 2019―Just a short distance away from Parakou, the largest city in northern Benin, Tchatchou is a very popular stop for motorists who travel the Cotonou-Niamey route daily and stop on the roadside to purchase yam and cheese. However, what many of them do not know is that, until very recently, this commune of over 25,000 residents did not have a hair salon worthy of the name, obliging many women to travel to Parakou to get their hair done. After six years of making do with limited resources in a makeshift location that she rented for CFAF 3,000 (roughly $5) a month, Christine Abéya Ali expanded her business by investing in a larger space, furniture, and hair salon equipment.  

A little boost to get off the ground

This caused quite a stir in Tchatchou, as Christine described passionately. “I was very good at doing women’s hair but because I didn’t have any equipment, I didn’t have any customers. So my husband helped me set up a salon and I used a grant from the Youth Employment Project (PEJ) to purchase salon equipment.  Now I am the only female hair stylist in Tchatchou with an electric hair dryer, so many women who used to go to Parakou are coming to my salon.”

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Christine Abéya Ali has been able to purchase a hairdryer and expand her hair salon business. Yao Gnona Afangbédji/World Bank

 

She used a grant of CFAF 200,000 (approximately $341) provided by the International Development Association (IDA)-financed project to purchase a hair dryer, a shampoo basin, mirrors, a fan, a storage cupboard, and a couch for the salon. The project also provided her with training to help her manage her salon more efficiently. The result: in the space of one year in her new salon, she hired 10 female apprentices and is generating record income. "I have already had a house built for my mother in her village in Kpatakou, and I am providing well for my three children,” she says. She also diversified her business by learning how to make beaded items (necklaces, bags, and other craft accessories), which she offers to her customers.

Like Christine, 17,000 Beninese nationals between the ages of 18 and 35 received training and a grant to start up or expand craft, tourism, or agricultural processing businesses in the country’s 77 communes. Many of them have been successful.

This is the case of Moukou Orou Koto, who is in his thirties and started a rabbit-rearing business in Boko, in the N’Dali commune in the department of Borgou. During the holiday season, he sold 40 rabbits and earned over CFAF 120,000 (roughly $204). “I am raising livestock right in the middle of the city. My mother saw how industrious I was and topped up the money I earned from the rabbit sales so that I could acquire 2.5 hectares of land in the village of Maréboro,” the young livestock farmer explains.

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After his training, Moukou Orou Koto, started a rabbit-rearing business in Boko, in the N’Dali commune in the department of Borgou. Yao Gnona Afangbédji/World Bank


"This training was critical to the project's success. The young participants became aware of their ability to transform their life with few resources"
Maxime Sogbossi
PEJ coordinator

The key to success: combining life and business management skills

The training, which was provided to eligible young people prior to disbursement of the grant, also includes a series of workshops aimed at boosting their self-confidence, teaching them how to communicate more effectively and manage conflicts, and helping them learn how to come up with a business idea, create the business, and manage it more efficiently. “This training was critical to the project's success. The young participants became aware of their ability to transform their life with few resources,” notes Maxime Sogbossi, the PEJ coordinator.

A project impact evaluation launched by the World Bank revealed that 94% of the beneficiaries used the grant to invest in their business, purchase production equipment, build stocks, carry out renovations, or build work premises. “The indicators show that businesses spearheaded by women, who account for more than 50% of the beneficiaries, have had a greater impact. Fewer of these women are now underemployed, in vulnerable jobs, or unemployed compared to women who did not benefit from the project,” states Julia Vaillant, Economist in the Africa Regional Office for Gender Impact Evaluation and Task Team Leader of the evaluation.

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The project appears to have had more impact among women, who represent more than 50% of beneficiaries. These women are now less vulnerable than other women who did not benefit from the project. Yao Gnona Afangbédji/World Bank

 

“The PEJ appears to have increased the economic integration of young people who are struggling, especially girls, including in the country’s most remote areas.  This positive outcome for youth employment will be carefully reviewed across the entire region,” notes Thomas Bossuroy, World Bank Senior Economist and Task Team Leader for the project. The odds are that many young people will indeed want to follow in the footsteps of Christine and Moukou.

Momentum continues under IDA18 as Benin joins the Sahel Women's Empowerment and Demographic Dividend Project, which, among other support, helps girls gain access to scientific and technological subjects and priority economic sectors. IDA18 financing will also support the Education for Employment Project and the Youth Inclusion Project, which will focus on services to promote the social and economic inclusion of young people in various communities.

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The PEJ appears to have increased the economic integration of young people who are struggling, especially girls, including in the country’s most remote areas. Yao Gnona Afangbédji/World Bank



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