By: Arabieu Bah
Mercy Corps has conducted a workshop for its latest Social Business Employment Grant (SBEG), prospective applicants. The proposal development and support workshop for the SBEG program is aimed at providing clear details on the guidelines of the grant application and how prospective applicants can fill in the application forms.
The workshop brought together over eighty entrepreneurs from Montserrado County. The program’s goal is to support Liberians find meaningful employment, increase skills, self-confidence, and market opportunities.
The workshop is intended to help applicants acquaint themselves with the application package, and provide real-time assistance in the development of their proposed ideas. Prospective applicants were told that the grant aims to curtail unemployment and to enable Liberian businesses to improve themselves.
The SBEG is driven by the provision of grants from $7,500 to $20,000 for thirteen (13) private sector businesses. Financing will be results-based and delivered in tranches based upon mutually-agreed milestones.
Through the provision of thoughtful and targeted financing, Mercy Corps seeks to support businesses to crowd-in additional funding upon grant closure by de-risking investments for investors.
Mercy Corps, with funding from the Swedish Embassy near Monrovia, seeks to leverage Liberia’s internal strengths (private sector development, youth empowerment, and financial awards and services) while strengthening private sector-led innovations with the potential to accelerate sustainable solutions to youth unemployment in the country.
Applications will be evaluated to the extent to which they demonstrate:
: Proposed solutions must clearly address a gap in the youth unemployment market through innovative approaches. Applicants are encouraged to highlight and underscore their nuanced understanding of the youth employment context and the needs and wants of youth as a target market relevant to the business case of each company.
: Proposed solutions must demonstrate cost-effective and positive social impact. This impact could be demonstrated in a variety of ways including but not limited to: number of youth viably equipped with information services / engaged in the development of information services through newspapers, online media, and/or social media; number of youth connected with gainful employment opportunities through cost-effective vetting and job matching practices; number of youth whose capacity is built through the development and delivery of viable and industry-led trainings and curricula.
Note: Capacity building must go beyond just number of trainings delivered to / attended by youth, and this should be clearly outlined in the approach.
Sustainability: Priority will be given to projects that demonstrate sustainability beyond the grant funding cycle. Applicants are encouraged to demonstrate the ability to leverage additional capital, particularly from other private sector companies including multi-nationals.
Replication and commercial viability: Proposed projects must be poised for commercial viability and demonstrate potential for replication of innovative products and services that support increased employment for youth.