Employment Promotion Through Entrepreneurship Among Women and Youth in Francophone Sub-Saharan Africa

June 8, 2015 – Montréal, Quebec – Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada

The Honourable Christian Paradis, Minister of International Development and La Francophonie, announced Canada’s support to a project promoting employment through entrepreneurship for women and youth in francophone sub-Saharan African countries.

Minister Paradis made this announcement at the Conference of Montréal, following his meeting with Michaëlle Jean, Secretary General of La Francophonie. During the conference, he participated in a number of activities linked to La Francophonie, including the forum on the economic strategy for La Francophonie, which was adopted at the November 2014 Dakar Summit. Canada’s contribution is a concrete step toward implementing this strategy, which aims at promoting the socio-economic integration of women and youth by focusing on their ability to innovate and their entrepreneurial spirit.

The purpose of the economic strategy for La Francophonie is to define inclusive and sustainable models of economic growth and development, in order to create a framework that facilitates trade and investment, as well as to help reduce social inequalities. The strategy also aims to strengthen the French-language economic area to make it a preferred forum for dialogue, cooperation and solidarity—values embodied by La Francophonie. To achieve this, the strategy calls for strengthening the democratic processes, the rule of law, governance, human rights and gender equality, and encourages greater participation by local development stakeholders, civil society, the private sector and the diaspora.

Quick Facts

  • Canada’s contribution is in addition to the announcement made at the Dakar Summit in support of initiatives to increase prosperity within Francophone countries, such as the Canadian Francophone Scholarship Program, the call for proposals for Skills for Employment within La Francophonie and the Young Leaders of La Francophonie project.
  • Canada is the second-largest donor and one of the key pillars of the International Organisation of La Francophonie.
  • Fourteen countries targeted by Canada and its partner countries in development are members of La Francophonie. Of these, over half are sub-Saharan African countries.
  • Over the 2013-2014 fiscal year, Canada allocated $1.96 billion in development assistance to sub-Saharan Africa. Of this amount, Francophonie member countries received $460 million, of which $261 million went toward bilateral aid and $199 million to multilateral organizations.
  • Canada is engaged in talks to conclude 37 bilateral economic and trade agreements of various types with 35 Francophonie member states and observers, including foreign investment promotion and protection agreements with a number of African countries; some of these agreements have already been signed.


“La Francophonie represents enormous economic potential because of its demographic and trade weight, its opportunities for growth and its natural resources, particularly in the sub-Saharan African countries, and because of the economic vitality that comes from sharing the French language.

“The contribution announced today is a concrete step toward implementing the economic strategy of La Francophonie, in which one of the preferred areas of action is to promote the socio-economic integration of women and youth by focusing on their capacity for innovation and their entrepreneurial spirit.”

– Christian Paradis, Minister of International Development and La Francophonie

“La Francophonie is a powerful linkage of institutional and professional networks from non‑governmental organizations and civil society. I would like to make it a powerful network of responsible entrepreneurs, businesses and investors, as well. The promotion of youth and women, notably though training, job creation and innovation, is central to the francophone economic project we wish to develop. Today’s announcement is perfectly consistent with this vision of a ‘Francophonie of solutions.’”

– Michaëlle Jean, Secretary General of La Francophonie

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