BEIJING (ILO/DFID News) – As part of a wider UN response to the earthquake, the ILO focuses on livelihoods recovery, under the broad theme of ‘helping people to get back to work’. Responding to a Government request, the ILO, with financial support by the UK Department for International Development, will provide targeted assistance to re-establishing at least 1,000 destroyed small businesses and setting up 700 new ones for those who lost their jobs. The project will start in July 2008 for a period of 12 months, focusing on rural townships in the cities of Mianyang, Deyang and Guangyuan.
Following the earthquake, an impressive relief operation is ongoing but already it is clear that the recovery of livelihoods lost is urgent. A large number of people that were either employed in small businesses or that were self-employed are no longer earning an income. This includes agricultural activities, where loss of livestock and crops is significant. The region affected by the quake is traditionally a sending area of migrant workers. Labour migration will increase if local opportunities for earning an income cannot be quickly identified.
From 2004 to 2007, the ILO has been working with provincial and local labour offices on entrepreneurship development through ‘Start and Improve Your Business’ training packages, composed of a suite of training products for business start-ups and business expansion. This project, funded by DFID, created more than one million jobs. It has also led to the establishment of a network of trainers and business counsellors that can be mobilised at short notice, including in the earthquake affected areas.
The project will support three groups of people, including unemployed workers who lost wage employment and have strong willingness to start businesses; farmers who lost land and other assets on agriculture and have strong willingness to start off-farm income generating activities or family business; and small business owners who lost their businesses but are willing to start again.
The entrepreneurs that are keen to start or restart operations will be provided with ‘Emergency Start and Improve Your Business’ (E-SIYB) training that will allow them to present their request for Government-sponsored support, including financial services and business development services, on the basis of a business plan that takes into account opportunities and challenges resulting from reconstruction efforts. They will also be offered access to short skills training courses if and when a specific technical skill to run the business successfully is required.
The ILO will work primarily with the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Services and the local human resource bureaux, which are responsible for implementation of a range of employment promotion measures and programmes.
In the disaster area, Emergency Employment Services have already been established to identify the demands and interests of job seekers. It is through this channel that existing entrepreneurs in need of assistance to re-launch their business or prospective new entrepreneurs will be identified.
The budget for this project is $800,000. DFID will provide an amount of $700,000, and the ILO $100,000. The Government will contribute through a series of special measures and programmes aiming at medium and small enterprises, which will be accessible to the project beneficiaries if their business plans meet the criteria set out under the training programmes.