Despite the high literacy rates, at over 90% for both boys and girls, Lesotho's economy is considered highly uncompetitive and lacking requisite conditions to promote private sector participation and entrepreneurship, especially among youth. More than 80% of the private sector is MSMEs, and prevalently in the service and retail sectors. Only about 7% of the country's youth have businesses, while 49% are interested, but do not have access to information, skills or funds to enable this. The country has a young population with almost 40% of its people aged below 35 years. Given the limited capacity of government to create jobs and employment opportunities and the small and undiversified private sector, more than 30% of youth remain unemployed or trapped in low paying jobs. The Government of Lesotho has adopted the National Youth Development Policy (2018), which provides a national blueprint on youth development and aims at facilitating comprehensive engagement of the youth for the country's socio-
economic development and political participation.
The Enhancing Youth Empowerment for Sustainable Development (EYES) project is aimed at addressing the challenge of lack of creative thinking and innovations for entrepreneurship and social development amongst the youth, which affects their ability to establish sustainable businesses and employment creating initiatives. The project will harness lessons and experiences from previous UNDP-supported projects to facilitate training programs and innovation camps premised on the design thinking process and concepts for development of youth-centric solutions and opportunities.
Specifically, the project is implemented through the following:
i) Identification and capacity building of youth entrepreneurs;
ii) Innovation grants and mentorship support; and
iii) knowledge and partnerships for youth development