AfDB to bolster job opportunities for young Cameroonians

The African Development Bank (AfDB) has underscored the success of its program aimed at bolstering job opportunities for young people in Cameroon.
At a meeting convened in Yaoundé on April 9, 2024, chaired by Marie-Laure Akin-Olugbade, the Bank Group’s Vice-President for Regional Development, Integration, and Business Delivery, stakeholders across various sectors gathered to discuss the Bank’s Program to Support Youth Employability in Cameroon.

The meeting saw significant participation from female entrepreneurs and young graduates who have benefited from work placements in projects financed by the Bank.

The event took place just ahead of the official inauguration of the African Development Bank Group’s regional office for Central Africa, signaling the Bank’s unwavering commitment to regional development.

Alongside young interns engaged in professional immersion within Bank-funded projects, the gathering also brought together male and female entrepreneurs active in agriculture, fishing, livestock, fish farming, and young women supported by the Bank to establish their own businesses. Additionally, managers from project management units were in attendance.

According to Serge N’Guessan, Director General of the Bank Group for Central Africa and head of the Bank’s Country Office in Cameroon, interns are deployed to projects in roles such as disbursement or contract award assistants, assistant engineers for road projects, archivists, among others.

N’Guessan revealed that 284 young individuals had already benefited from 12-month placements, providing them with valuable opportunities to integrate into various workplace settings, including projects funded by the Bank or other donors, as well as the private or public sectors. Notably, seven of them have secured positions within the Ministry of Public Works.

As the program prepares to receive its seventh cohort of interns, it has significantly contributed to integrating the majority of beneficiaries into the workforce.Dieudonné Toukea, one of the program beneficiaries, shared her experience, underscoring the opportunities afforded by her initial exposure to the workplace, which enabled her to pursue her aspirations in the consultancy field.

“This initial experience really opened up opportunities for my friends and me. It gave me the chance to develop other activities after my placement and look for additional qualifications, which means I can now pursue a career in consultancy. Thank you for the opportunity we were given,” she said.

The participants advocated for the opening up a fund to finance entrepreneurs and for more opportunities to work on Bank projects. Finally, they hoped that the process of creating a web platform for networking with former interns could be speeded up.

Marie-Laure Akin-Olugbade reasserted the importance of self-employment, especially for young people and women, emphasizing the Bank Group’s support through initiatives such as AFAWA (Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa). She highlighted collaboration with commercial banks to make access to credit easier for female entrepreneurs, emphasizing their reliability and greater capacity for repaying loans.

“We work with the commercial banks and offer them guarantees that help them to lend to female entrepreneurs. We also organize training for credit managers in banks to raise their awareness about being more open to funding applications submitted by women, since – contrary to popular belief – there is little risk in lending to women and women are best when it comes to repayments,” she stated.

“The project here in Cameroon is unique and I urge you to seize the opportunity, keep training and improve your skills to be even more competitive in the labour market,” the Vice-President of the Bank Group told the young people present. She pointed out that Africa needed to find work for the 12 million jobseekers who joined the labour market every year.

The meeting was also an opportunity for Jeanine Nkodo, coordinator of the Agricultural Value Chain Development Project, to highlight the specific efforts to support female entrepreneurs in this sector.

The Vice-President concluded by speaking about the Bank’s recent adoption of its ten-year strategy, which puts young people and women at the heart of its priorities. She also reaffirmed the Bank’s role as one of Cameroon’s key partners, particularly in terms of infrastructure funding and support for regions in crisis.

The Bank is also keen to support large businesses, particularly in the private sector, to encourage greater openness to young people and women.

“The Bank is open to providing funding to support these interns’ projects to help them integrate into society and the workplace by starting their own businesses,” said the Vice-President.

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