Eighty percent of secondary school graduates can neither find employment nor employ themselves, a situation government says need to change if Malawi is to move out of the current economic problems.

Minister of Youth and Sports Enoch Chihana said this when he recently launched an Opportunity Bank loan facility in Kasungu, targeting Technical, Entrepreneurial and Vocational Education and Training (Tevet) graduates.

“Every year, over 200 000 young people enter the job market, but the formal sector is unable to absorb all of them.

“One way of empowering young people is by providing them with entrepreneurial skills and, thereafter, loans to start businesses,” said Chihana.

He said the Joyce Banda administration is committed to promoting the informal sector which has for a long time been neglected.

“The contribution of the informal sector to the economy, especially job creation, is significant. Due to lack of employment opportunities in the public and private sectors, many youths are either unemployed or underemployed,” he said.

Opportunity Bank chief relationship manager Luckwell Ng’ambi urged the youth to use the facility to better their lives.

“Opportunity Bank stands with Teveta to ensure that young people become economically productive and socially responsible as citizens in their communities. As a bank, we conducted research which showed that youths constitute 46 percent of the population and 60 percent of the unemployed in the country. Obviously, something has to be done to change this,” he said.

Ng’ambi said the bank will use a business-based approach to empower the youths because they have a lot of needs.

He said about 73 percent of the youth on average get between K1 000 and K5 000 per month through informal means and this caused the bank to design youth friendly products to address their needs.

Teveta director of human resource Moses Mwenye commended the bank for partnering their organisation in the project which he said will transform a lot of young people.

“It is encouraging that Opportunity Bank is interested and willing to support our programme with loans for small-scalebusiness. This programme will promote and develop our students,” said Mwenye.

According to their agreement, the bank will give the loans and Teveta will identify beneficiaries.

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