Cuso International and MEDA invest in Nigeria’s future leaders

MEDAs YouLead project in NigeriaFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 23, 2015

YouLead project spurs youth entrepreneurship and financial inclusion

WATERLOO, ON – Youth unemployment is endemic to many developing countries. In southern Nigeria's Cross River State (CRS), 45% of youth are unemployed or underemployed.

But MEDA – Mennonite Economic Development Associates – is working with fellow development organization Cuso International to assist youth who are trying to break into the labor force and build a life for themselves.

While Nigeria is Africa's largest economy, only 21% of youth have access to a formal bank account, 17% save formally and 2% have received a formal loan.

The mismatch of youth education/skills and those required by the natural resource industry, coupled with gender barriers and unsafe, poorly compensated work pose significant challenges to youth searching for economic opportunities.

A new project, YouLead (Youth Leadership, Entrepreneurship, Access and Development), promotes youth employment and entrepreneurship in natural resources sectors, such as agriculture, forestry, ecotourism and aquaculture. By providing skills training, tools and access to finance, 7,000 working and entrepreneurial youth in CRS be able to prosper economically.

Over five years (2014-2019), MEDA will work with Cuso International to help local financial service providers better respond to the needs of young adults in CRS.

"YouLead is a great opportunity to build on MEDA's success and learning with the YouthInvest project in Morocco and Egypt," said MEDA's Jen Denomy, director of Youth Economic Opportunities. "Working with local MFIs, we will improve their ability to offer inclusive financial services for Nigerian youth, especially those looking to find a job or start their own business. We are excited to be working with Cuso International on this project."

The project is funded by the Global Affairs Canada (GAC), Cuso International and MEDA supporters.

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For more information, please contact:
Linda Whitmore - lwhitmore@meda.org
Jaclyn Stief - jstief@meda.org
519-725-1633

About Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA)
MEDA is an international economic development organization whose mission is to create business solutions to poverty. Founded in 1953 by a group of Mennonite business professionals, we partner with the poor to start or grow small and medium-sized businesses in developing regions around the world. Our expertise includes a full range of economic development tools: financial services, improved technology, business training, better access to markets and equity investment. Our work most often focuses on women, youth and the rural poor. We believe that all people deserve the opportunity to earn a livelihood and that unleashing entrepreneurship is a powerful way to alleviate poverty.

About Cuso International
Cuso International is a non-profit international development organization that works to improve the lives of people living with poverty and inequality around the globe. Each year we mobilize hundreds of volunteer professionals who work with local partners to create positive lasting change. Established in 1961, Cuso International is a registered charity in Canada and the United States.