Entrepreneurs du Monde's programs in Sierra Leone
Sierra Leone's geographical, historical and economic setting
7.7 million inhabitants
184th out of 189 on the HDI
60% of the population live below the poverty line
Since independence from the British in 1961, Sierra Leone has experienced many social, economic and political challenges. From 1991 to 2002, Sierra Leone was devastated by civil war after a rebel group, the Revolutionary United Front, intervened in an attempt to overthrow the Government. The country has made significant progress since 2002 in terms of post-conflict recovery, peace building and democracy. In recent years, economic growth has been driven by mining, particularly iron ore. The country’s principal exports are iron ore, diamonds, and rutile, and the economy is vulnerable to fluctuations in international prices.
The Ebola outbreak of 2014 and 2015, combined with falling global commodities prices, caused a significant decline in all economic activity. In 2017, increased iron ore exports, together with the end of the Ebola epidemic, supported an improvement in economic growth. However, high problems of poor infrastructure and widespread rural and urban impoverishment remain.
Why social microfinance?
Much of the population live in rural areas (62%). The population is also very young: 42% is under 15 years old. Employment remains high, with 70% of youth currently unemployed or underemployed. To make a living, people run a small grocery, workshop, field or livestock. But to develop it and make it profitable, they lack of funding and training. Their need for social microfinance is high.
The small size of the Sierra Leone microfinance market and extreme poverty and vulnerability of the inhabitants stop microfinance operators from working with these people, particularly in very rural areas. The microfinance market is still not very developed in Sierra Leone, so Entrepreneurs du Monde decided to start up a programme to help some of the most poor and vulnerable communities to succeed in their microbusiness and get out of extreme poverty.