Private sector development, entrepreneurship and good education in Niger
This week minister Sigrid Kaag visits Niger to meet with people involved with projects in food security, migration and employment. One of the components of the program is a meeting with local entrepreneurs.
In Niger, one of the poorest countries in the world, youth unemployment is a huge challenge. Therefore, The Netherlands invests in private sector development, entrepreneurship and good education, to provide the new generation with the right skills and instruments to be able to build their own future. To be able to do that well, it’s important to be aware of specific challenges and the local context. We asked a group of entrepreneurs in Niger what challenges they face and how they work in Niger.
Challenges for young entrepreneurs in Niger
‘Bank financing is one of the main challenges we face. It is inadequate for young entrepreneurs in view of the very high interest rate and the types of guarantees requested’, says Ouma Kaltoume Issoufou, who is an entrepreneur in agricultural products. Kaltoume Issoufou also notes that the lower prices of imported products make it hard to compete with her own products.
According to Abdoul-Kader Issoufou, director of the ‘Centre Agroécologique de Productions Intégrées et de Formation en Agrobusiness, there is no culture of entrepreneurship in Niger: ‘It helps if we would stimulate the entrepreneurial culture in Niger, especially with the youth, and setting up structures to support them’.
For female entrepreneurs there are more specific challenges. ‘There is the social context that greatly marginalises women, people think that I am incapable of running a business’, says Nafissatou Noura Chéhadi. ‘And there is family pressure where you have to take care of a home in addition to your business’
Netherlands youth support in Niger
The Netherlands supports local activities at the interface between vocational education and work. To provide youth with the right (entrepreneurial) skills, and giving them access to finance and relevant networks, which is often difficult, especially for start-ups.
One of the organisations we support is CIPMEN - the first incubator in Niger and in the Sahel, which helps local entrepreneurs and start-ups. CIPMEN supports entrepreneurs who are active in ICT, sustainable energy, the environment and agribusiness. Through partnerships with organisations such as Agriprofocus and SNV, we provide these entrepreneurs with networks and trainings. A valuable development, according to Aboubacar Garba of Niger Digital: ‘AgriProFocus brings all the necessary information and when it is not available for Niger, gives you access to data in neighboring countries. It is a large network that is becoming indispensable to entrepreneurship today.’
Another important aspect is education. Strengthening of primary education takes place through the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), to which The Netherlands issued a new (un-earmarked) contribution at the end of 2018. GPE provided a contribution in 2018 through UNICEF for the revision of the education sector plan of the Niger Ministry of Education.