Supporting Youth Employment through Cash Grants for Entrepreneurship: Findings from a Qualitative Study of the Perspectives and Experiences of Cash Grant Recipients under the Benin Youth Employment Project

Benin’s labor market is characterized by a high participation rate, but extensive informality and underemployment. Underemployment is even higher among youth and rural women. The labor market is also extremely segregated by gender. Under the Benin Youth Employment Project(PEJ), closed in June 2019, the Government of Benin (GoB) successfully piloted a gender sensitive economic inclusion program. In addition to a comprehensive package of services, the project included services and operational processes to maximize female participation. The PEJ focused on helping youth start or expand their income-generating activities by delivering business and life skills training and cash grants. The life skills modules focused on communication, problem solving, gender and empowerment, aspirations, and initiative. An impact evaluation of PEJ, conducted by the World Bank’s Gender Innovation Lab (GIL), was designed to measure the impact of these components alone and in combination. One group of participants received both interventions, one group only the training, one group only the cash grant, and a control group received neither. The ambition was to evaluate the relative impacts of relaxing the financial capital constraint, the human capital constraint, and both simultaneously. The purpose of the study was to investigate the mechanisms of impact of the cash grants by gathering grant recipients’ perspectives on the support they received.