Join us today to celebrating World Youth Skills Day! This day is set aside on the United Nations Calendar as a day to pause and reflect on the world’s youth, the skills they possess, and the work being done around the world to help young people gain access to new skills and opportunities.

This year’s theme is “Skills for a Resilient Youth” and we are excited to share with you one of our newest projects that embodies this theme. 2020 has so far been a challenging year, to say the least, and it has tested our resiliency in many ways. The world’s youth are not exempt from this, and that is why we are investing in a project that promotes “Skills for a Resilient Youth” through a holistic skills-based program. 

Our project, IFC Advisory Program: COVID-19 Support for Adolescent Girls, is focused on teaching young women in Sierra Leone how to run their own sustainable soap-making businesses. This project incorporates a response to COVID-19 with a social venture, protection, WASH, and global health and is the outcome of our desire to work holistically, meeting as many connected needs in a community as possible.

So how does this new initiative combine all these sectors? One word: Soap. By teaching young women how to run their own soap making business, it can improve their access to the following four things.

1. Entrepreneurial Skills

This initiative is not just about learning the actual technical skill of making soap. We believe that you must look at the big picture and support people appropriately. This means that we are dedicated to teaching these young women how to run their own businesses within their communities, as well as the practical skills of making the soap—which includes everything from how to make a hygienic product to what shape it takes and how to package and sell it. Business skills and financial responsibility go hand in hand so we are committed to partnering with these young women to ensure trainings and support in all these areas. 

Click right to see some of the girls who have been selected to participate!

2. Financial Independence.

By having skills in soap making and entrepreneurship, these young women will have the opportunity to be financially independent. Soap is a sustainable product to be selling as it gets used up by the consumer, creating a healthy cycle of demand. Currently the demand for sanitization products like soap has spiked – and this creates a viable business opportunity that women, youth, and persons with disabilities can take advantage of to earn a living in these uncertain times.

3. Increased Protection.

Being financially independent closely connects to a decrease in female vulnerability. Young women are often faced with abuse when they must depend on others for money and living costs. Poverty and desperation often drive families to allow their child to be trafficked, generally unknowingly, to bigger towns and cities, with the intention of gaining educational or vocational opportunities. A lack of opportunities for adolescent girls contributes to the problems of prostitution, gender-based violence, human trafficking and more. One of the many goals of this project is to give young women the opportunity to earn their own money so that they will no longer need to depend on those who will take advantage of or abuse them.

4. Improved Hygiene to Combat Disease and Viruses.

Having an increase in soap availability in many of these villages will help them in long-term fights to prevent diseases and the spreading of viruses. Many of these villages do not have access to the necessary, bacteria-killing, chemicals and products. Having a steady supply of soap will help them improve their overall hygiene practices as soap will no longer scarce. This should have an overall positive effect on health in their communities.

Handwashing is one of the precautionary measures against COVID-19 recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Sierra Leone Ministry of Health and Sanitation. By training young women on soap making and the running of a soap selling business, there will be an increased supply of soap available in their villages. This is especially important right now as COVID-19 continues to spread throughout the world. Having access to soap and water is vital to efforts to mitigating the virus’s spread. Though this project’s focus is teaching soap making and business skills, it provides a unique opportunity to promote how to individually prevent the further spread of COVID-19.

As of today, the trainers have been trained by UN Women and WHI staff in Sierra Leone, and 45 young women have been selected to participate. Next we will be running soap making workshops in their villages – ultimately supporting resiliency in youth! 

Goal #4 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is to “Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.”

Social Ventures transform communities and the lives of individuals and are an important part of World Hope International’s work around the world.

You can support our global efforts to achieve SDGs with a gift to The Hope Fund.