During the Ebola crisis, there was a 50 per cent decline in formal employment in Sierra Leone. While the country’s economy continues to recover, unemployment remains an issue, particularly for young people – nearly three quarters of the youth population are out of work. If this is to be addressed, businesses that support the creation of skilled jobs need investment.
How Flash Vehicles supports jobs
Flash Vehicles is a car hiring and leasing company operating in Sierra Leone and Liberia. The company employs over 230 people, including drivers, mechanics and office support staff.
During the Ebola crisis, the company played a vital support role, driving doctors, nurses and patients to and from hospitals and quarantined zones. “Previously, when I was working for another company, as soon as they heard that Ebola was in the country, they left”, said Elodie Bientz, Flash’s HR Manager. “Flash stayed. Not only they stayed, but they worked closely with people that were really involved.”
Every day drivers receive at least two hours of training, which focuses on practical driving skills, as well as advice on how to interact with the company’s clients, who come from a variety of international backgrounds. Elodie says it's fundamental to the business’ approach: “When we recruit our future employee, we don’t necessarily look at qualification, we look at the ability to learn.”
Now I have a lot of skills.
Abdul Karim is a driver for Flash and lives in Sierra Leone’s capital Freetown with his wife and two children. While working for Flash during the Ebola crisis, he was seconded to the World Health Organisation, where he drove doctors wherever they needed to go. “I believe that I helped save a lot of lives,” Abdul said. Although it meant being away from his family for long periods of time, he’s proud he could play a role in the relief effort.
As one of the more experienced drivers at the company, Abdul enjoys sharing his knowledge with the younger drivers and mechanics: “They make me proud, they want to develop their careers. They have passion for the job.”
When his children grow up, Abdul says, he wants to see more opportunities for them than previous generations: “Whenever I look at my son, the hope is high in my heart for him. I want to see him be somebody in the future.”
How we’re invested in Flash Vehicles
In 2017, we invested $20 million in Solon Capital Partners, which owns Flash. The investment is part of our ongoing commitment to supporting economic development in Sierra Leone – since Ebola hit, we’ve committed more than $140 million.