What is a "Sustainable Livelihood"?
"A livelihood comprises the capabilities, assests (including both material and social resources) and activities required for a means of living. A livelihood is sustainable when it can cope with and recover from stresses and shocks and maintain or enhance its capabilities and assets both now and in the future, while not undermining the natural resource base" - Adapted from Chambers, R.and G. Conway (1992)
Commonwealth youth representatives (at Commonwealth Youth Forum meetings and elsewhere) have repeatedly endorsed this multi-faceted view of livelihoods:
Our flagship programme for sustainable livelihoods is the Commonwealth Youth Credit Initiative (CYCI), an integral package of micro-credit, enterprise training and business mentorship targeted at the young people with the potential for self-employment.
Between 2000 and 2015 over a billion young men and women will enter the labour force worldwide.
"Self-employment is the quickest and easiest way to create employment for the poor..a big step towards eliminating poverty is to make sure that we offer financial services even to the poorest person, that no one is rejected by a bank on the grounds that he/she is a poor person."
- Muhammad Yunus, founder and Managinf Director, the Grameen Bank.
CYCI was first implemented in 1996-7 in India, Zambia, Guyana and Solomon Islands. The lessons learned have been incorporated into a training resource, the CYCI Toolkit, and the project is being replicated in a further twelve countries.
"The loan from the CYCI has helped me to be independant and not to be a sex worker...I can buy my own soap, food, clothes.. These guys have nothing to offer me, financially, I am even better off than most of them." - CYCI participant Florida Harrison, Malawi.
"I didn't know I could ever do something useful. My family is very proud of me. I have money over every week, after making the repayments. I put some of it back into my lundrette and most of the rest goes to support my children."
- Anita, of Ahmedabad, India, was unemployed and struggling when she heard about the CYCI project. She came to it already armed with the germ of a business idea - a lundry and ironing service in her neighbourhood - but no way to put it into practice. By the end of ten days' entrepreneurship training, Anita knew exactly what she wanted to do. A CYCI field officer helped her to complete her business plan , and she submitted an application to the loan appraisal committee. Anita collected her loan and went directly to her local supplier. she bought an iron and ironing board, hangers, detergents and several washing buckets, and set up shop at her home. Within eight months it was clear this small enterprise was a real business success. -
Our Caribbean Centre makes a Business Plan Innovation Award (BPIA), providing start-up grants for innovative an sustainable business projects. Twenty-three year-old Ella Registe from Dominica, winner of the 2005 BPIA Award, opened an internet café and offeres computer classes. Ella says the programme not only helped to fulfill her dream of owning a business, but also gave her a chance to help young women and men in her community to keep abreast of ICT advances.
CYP supports existing micro-enterprises through training workshops. Between 2003 and 2006 some 150 young entrepreneurs recieved training through our Pacific Centre.
An ICT-equipped Technology Empowerment Centre was established at our Africa Centre in Lusaka, Zambia in 2004 (with support frm the Government of Cyprus). The centre provides training in ICT for business, as well as offering its facilities to students enrolled in local secondary schools. In India and Pakistan we offer ICT training through mobil Technology Empowerment Centres. In total over 3000 young people recieved ICT training from CYP between 2000 and 2006.