Entrepreneurship Promotes Reconciliation in Côte d’Ivoire

September 15, 2011

Côte d’Ivoire is a living example of the poverty and instability that stem from armed conflict. Once a rising economic success story, the country has suffered from years of political instability, including two civil wars in the last 10 years. Today, nearly half the country’s population lives below the poverty line. TechnoServe is working to bridge this divide by promoting entrepreneurship and job creation.


Entrepreneur Sara Adico speaks at an awards ceremony for a TechnoServe business plan competition in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire. The competition is helping Sara launch a nursery school.

Côte d’Ivoire is a living example of the poverty and instability that stem from armed conflict. Once a rising economic success story, the country has suffered from years of political instability, including two civil wars in the last 10 years.

Today, nearly half the country’s population lives below the poverty line. Unemployment is high, and young Ivorians are moving southward in growing numbers toward Abidjan, the country’s economic capital. This migration adds to the tension between north and south in Côte d’Ivoire – a major factor behind the country’s past and present conflicts.

TechnoServe is working to bridge this divide by promoting entrepreneurship and job creation. The World Bank’s State and Peace-Building Fund is supporting “Un Projet Des Emplois J’y Crois” (I Believe in Projects for Jobs), a TechnoServe business plan competition that aims to create new economic opportunities for Ivorians. The program recently completed a first phase in Abidjan, with 20 winning entrepreneurs receiving seed funding and follow-on consulting services. These winners were selected from 375 candidates, all of whom received training on essential business skills.

Now, TechnoServe is expanding the program to the Bouaké region in central Côte d’Ivoire, the first of several planned competitions in the country’s central and northern regions. These programs will create new opportunities for young people in rural areas, helping them to preserve the fabric of their communities. TechnoServe advisors are recruiting aspiring entrepreneurs for the competition in Bouaké, as well as a second phase in Abidjan.

These business plan competitions are an investment in entrepreneurship, economic growth and job creation. But they also represent an investment in reconciliation. By working to even the economic disparities between north and south, TechnoServe is helping eliminate a central source of conflict. For Côte d’Ivoire, a more prosperous present can lead to a peaceful future.

 

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