Giving young entrepreneurs
a chance to start a sustainable business

Sierra Leone


International Organization for Migration (IOM)

Mission: Promoting youth employment and entrepreneurship


To promote youth employment and entrepreneurship in Sierra Leone to reduce the risk of irregular migration.

Social issues addressed by IOM

High unemployment rate among youth in Sierra Leone
More than 15 years after the Sierra Leone Civil War*, Sierra Leone is one of Africa’s highest youth unemployment rates.

In Sierra Leone, 2 out of every 3 people of young people are unemployed or underemployed.



*Sierra Leone Civil War: A civil war that took place in Sierra Leone from 1991 to 2002. An engagement between rebel forces, the Revolutionary United Front (RUF), and government forces over control of diamond mines led to a major civil war that killed more than 75,000 people.

Vision: To promote young employment and entrepreneurship in Sierra Leone and reduce the risk of irregular migration.


To reduce the number of young people who become irregular migrants by enhancing their entrepreneurial abilities to develop sustainable businesses.

Sierra Leone, where the IOM operates

Sierra Leone
Population 504 USD GDP per capita 7.97 million

Many young Sierra Leoneans lack access to employment and vocational support


For decades, because of limited participation in entrepreneurship support, technical education, and vocational training, many young people have not been able to develop sufficient skills to support themselves and their families or engage in sustainable business.


Sierra Leone also has one of the highest rates of youth unemployment in Africa. There is no shortage of cases of young people attempting to migrate to other countries irregularly.


Every year, thousands of people are forced to migrate to other countries through illegal means directed by traffickers and smugglers.

Young people migrate irregularly out of the country to take advantage of economic opportunities outside of Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone’s largest city



High unemployment rates have led to an increase in the number of youths who are not hardworking in Freetown and other urban areas, causing unrest in some communities and furthering economic decline.


The deteriorating socio-economic situation in the country due to COVID-19 is also expected to further increase youth unemployment. In addition, the rising cost of living is affecting millions of families, and many people are looking to migrate to other countries. Despite the dangers involved in irregular migration, people travel outside the country in search of economic opportunities in Europe.

Monthly Support Plan and Return from International Organization for Migration (IOM)

Monthly amount


Monthly supporters-only newsletter

A thank you email from the IOM Project Manager

Participation in the support community

Monthly amount


Monthly supporters-only newsletter

A thank you email from the IOM Project Manager

Participation in the support community

Monthly amount


Monthly supporters-only newsletter

A thank you email from the IOM Project Manager

Participation in the support community

Monthly amount


Monthly supporters-only newsletter

A thank you email from the IOM Project Manager

Participation in the support community

A personal letter from an entrepreneur currently supported by IOM

Name on IOM’s social networking sites, activity reports, memorials, etc.

Live stream

Connect with International Organization for Migration (IOM) through the scheduled live streams.

Supporters will be able to communicate directly with the children and staff at the sites, asking questions and sending words of encouragement

About IOM Sierra Leone


IOM Sierra Leone Project Manager

Kunikazu Akao

赤尾 邦和


Kunikazu Akao provides employment support at IOM Sierra Leone and is the manager of this present project dedicated to supporting young entrepreneurs in Sierra Leone.

Mission of the IOM’s Entrepreneurship Project in Sierra Leone

IOM wants to empower youth in Sierra Leone through building entrepreneurship capacity for them to develop sustainable businesses for reducing irregular migration. To achieve this goal we’re holding a youth empowerment project entitled: ‘The Project For Reducing the Risk of Irregular Migration through Promotion and Entrepreneurship Support for the Youth’ where we are providing training, mentorship on entrepreneurship and also providing startup kits and business mentorship.

The main cause of irregular migration to other countries in Sierra Leone is youth unemployment, as migrate to other countries is a way for them to get out of poverty. We believe that training young people to start and improve their own businesses is the best way to reduce youth unemployment and actively participate in the development of the country.


To this end, IOM Sierra Leone is doing the following

Vocational training to improve employment aptitude


Support 2,000 vulnerable youth (600 of whom are young women) with vocational training to improve their employability and meet the demands of the labor market.


Training to become entrepreneurs


200 young people, 70% of whom will be young women, will be provided with business start-up methods, and 40 entrepreneurs, 50% of whom will be young women, will be provided with advanced training in business management.


Campaigns to curb irregular migration


Through an awareness campaign to young people about the dangers of irregular migration, we will inform them that there are ways to be economically active in Sierra Leone.

Main activities of IOM Sierra Leone

Five-day training for young entrepreneurs to learn about sustainable business


In early October 2019, to address the high unemployment rate in Sierra Leone, IOM Sierra Leone in collaboration with Freetown City Council organized a practical 5-day training on waste management business for 200 young people in the city. The aim of the training was to provide young people with skills in household waste collection and management and to give them the experience of running a waste collection business and using the profits to at least eliminate the inconveniences of daily life.


Participants worked in groups to set up and manage 20 different waste collection businesses. As part of the training, participants were provided with 15 months of business development support, as well as the waste collection equipment and electric tricycles needed for their businesses.


Five-day training of trainers on ‘Gender and Entrepreneurship’


In October 2019, IOM Sierra Leone organized a training of trainers on ‘Gender and Entrepreneurship’ titled ‘First Training of Trainers Workshop on Entrepreneurship In Sierra Leone’.


The objective of the training was to equip 18 potential trainers with the appropriate knowledge and skills on entrepreneurship and to train 240 youth and young entrepreneurial women in Sierra Leone.


By promoting employment and entrepreneurship among the youth of Sierra Leone through this initiative, we hope to reduce the number of irregular migrants going abroad in the future. The goal is to help young people understand that there are many business opportunities in Sierra Leone and that they do not have to migrate.


The participating trainer candidates were trained on a wide range of topics including economic learning techniques, introduction to entrepreneurship, business ideas, business planning and coaching.

Entrepreneurs supported by IOM


Alie is a young entrepreneur from Sierra Leone. His dream is to become a successful entrepreneur and establish a computer training center to help people grow.


He has a vision to provide the best educational support for computer related vocational skills and wants to open a learning facility.


The aim is to equip the youth of Sierra Leone with useful skills for work.

A message from Alie


My dream is to first build my skills so that I can reach my full potential and become financially stable, and then to help others grow and achieve their dreams. If this project is successful, not only will I be able to achieve my goals, but the young people of Sierra Leone, who have a bright future ahead of them, will be able to become financially independent and further develop their skills.


Emma runs a small beauty salon.


The first step is to become financially independent and be able to support her family.


The next step is to improve the business on a daily basis in the hopes that it will greatly help the young men and women of the community by creating job opportunities in the area.

A message from Emma


I am so grateful to God and all of you for your support and passion.
I will continue to run my business well for the sake of my community and my country.



Elizabeth is one of the young entrepreneurs trained by IOM Sierra Leone and is the founder and owner of Calabash Fruits, a small fruit selling business. With the support of this program, she has been able to expand her business and create employment opportunities in her community.
(Elizabeth is in the back center of the photo)

Would you like to support the young entrepreneurs in Sierra Leone
monitored by IOM?