Tapping into youth talent. Building opportunities and pathways
Elevator Pitch: Share a concise summary. Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.
BRIDGE is in its pilot stage, and will empower youths to go from no experience to gainful employment. The Bridge Project will be an online platform and youth center run by youth to enhance their potential. It aims at 'building bridges' between organizations and youth, and seek to build pathways to employment for young women and men aged 18-24 through volunteer opportunities, innovation hubs, access to mentors and sponsors, as well as social entrepreneurship. Recognizing that volunteerism is an important component of any strategy aimed at youth empowerment, we aim to build long-lasting partnerships to engage youth in social and economic change through sustainable projects, while enabling them to acquire new skills and experience that will increase their employability and social entrepreneurship.
WHAT IF Inspiration: What's one way your project dares to ask, “WHAT IF?”
Problem: What problem does your solution address?
According to the Global Employment Trends 2014 Report of the International Labor Organization, the labor market outlook for young people worsened in nearly every region of the world. The global youth unemployment rate rose to 13.1 per cent in 2013, from 12.9 per cent in 2012 and 11.6 per cent in 2007.
The DRC is no exception. The Youth Map Report (2013) revealed that ‘more than 7.3 million out-of-school young people are left even further behind in achieving their full potential’. Youths have potential, but more than 80 percent of young Congolese are underemployed, and 58 percent are unemployed. The DRC’s labor market is out of balance. Finding work is a real challenge for youths in Kinshasa. Another study has also revealed that ‘barely 5% of youths in DRC find employment corresponding to their ability’. Rising youth unemployment has reached critical levels that require our urgent attention. In the absence of any real employment policy in DRC to help the youths, the Bridge Project will build an advocacy coalition for youth policy development and implementation, including the integration of volunteerism and social entrepreneurship into the legal framework.
Obviously, there is a need for youths to have decent work in Kinshasa in order to actively participate to the social and economic advancement of their community. This need must be met as soon as possible because youths represent the future of Congo. The DRC is a country full of natural resources, but human resources are still a problem. Youths have great potential for growth, and the Bridge Project will invest on this potential. We need to start somewhere, because it is a process. Youth unemployment rates in Kinshasa are unknown, but they are really high. It is a fact that we see every day in Kinshasa. One of the reasons of this phenomenon is the fact that formal education in DRC does not always equip youths with enough knowledge and skills for the 21st century job market. As a result, there is a mismatch between formal education and the real world of work. The other reason is the lack of career services in universities to prepare students for the job market, which impedes their ability to do basic things like writing a resume or getting ready for a job competency-based interview.
Despite the high number of youth centers in DRC, they do not specifically address the issue of youth unemployment. One of the challenges that youths face when filing a job application after their graduation from university is their lack of experience. Yet, society does not always give a chance nor does it help youths get this required experience. Even internship opportunities are not always available because getting an internship opportunity in Kinshasa sometimes implies knowing someone who knows someone who knows someone who can help; and this does not necessarily mean that a positive feedback will be given.
Solution: What is the proposed solution?
While there is also a need for a reform in the educational system in Congo, which will take time, the good news is that the Bridge Project is there to try and solve youth unemployment by creating partnerships and volunteer opportunities for young women and men in order to increase their employability. The Bridge will also provide training on social entrepreneurship and soft skills. The priority of the Bridge Project is to answer to the immediate needs of youths who finish high school, who want to gain experience through volunteerism, entrepreneurship and access to mentors before they decide to continue their studies at higher education, on one hand, and those who have recently graduated from university and are still struggling to find a decent job, on the other hand. These youths have the potential to actively participate to the social and economic development of their community, and the Bridge Project aims at investing on their potential and increasing their employability. There is a need to be fulfilled. There is a gap to be filled. There is a Bridge to be built.
Organizations always have a project that has never been started or an assignment that is not yet completed, which do not necessarily need an intern. There is still a lot to be done in terms of agricultural projects in remote areas of Kinshasa. The Bukanga Lonzo project is one of these opportunities where youths could volunteer and have access to employment later on. We build partnerships with existing organizations in the non-profit sector, public sector and private sector. We get to know their needs and upcoming projects and offer them cost-effective ways to solve their problems: volunteers. We recruit volunteers from high schools and universities to work on short-term projects based on the needs of these organizations. We train these young people on life skills, professional skills and entrepreneurship. We also partner with another social enterprise to train youths on leadership to help them to become change agents..
For the first three months of this pilot project, targeted youths will develop technical, professional, and social entrepreneurship skills. They will then apply those skills during the second three months on a volunteer assignment at one of our corporate partners. During this time they will be supported by professional mentors and a powerful network of community-based partners and ongoing training and mentorship. Organizations such i-JetNet, an Apple reseller, have already been contacted and will host some of our volunteers.
Based on the assumption that youth unemployment is a major threat to DRC’s stability and development, and recognizing that skills development and volunteerism are important components of our strategy, we will engage youths in volunteer assignments, while enabling them to make a difference in host organizations and their community. By the same occasion, they will increase their employability, become competitive in the fierce labor market and enhance their social entrepreneurship and ability to create jobs.
What awards or honors has the project received?
The Bridge Project was recognized by Clinton Global Initiative in New York as a winning idea for a youth employment challenge
Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how your solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.
• Establish a youth center that trains youths and builds a pathway to employment through volunteerism
• Partner with key organizations to help youths gain experience and skills
• Train youths on career and entrepreneurship skills to prepare them for decent work
• Place youths on short-term volunteer assignment to gain employability skills
• Provide youths with career services, information and other resources.
Impact: What is the impact of the work to date and expected impact in the future?
The primary target group that will benefit from the prototype of a longer term endeavor will be 50 unexperienced youths aged between 18 and 24, including high school graduates with limited resources and unemployed university graduates in various areas of study, including agronomy, law students, information technology, and environment. These students will be carefully selected based on potential for growth.
• Result 1: Increased youth experience through volunteerism
• Result 2: Increased youth employability and entrepreneurship skills
• Result 4: Entry to the job market after the short-term volunteer placement
• Result 5: Volunteerism is integrated in the national youth and labour policy as a pathway for youth employment
Full Impact Potential: What are the main spread strategies moving forward?
Expanding on the previous answer, we will measure impact by:
• Number of partnerships built with organizations
• Number of youths trained on employability skills and placed on volunteer assignments
• Number of volunteers who enter the job market (entry-level positions) after the volunteer placement
• Volunteerism policy developed
Sustainability Plan: What is this solution's plan to ensure financial sustainability?
The sustainability and viability of the Bridge Project is viable because we believe it will make social impact and make in difference in the lives of many youths in DRC if it gets funded. Unexperienced youths will have the opportunity to gain additional skills and experience that will make them more employable. Moreover, the Bridge Project was selected as the winning idea by the Clinton Global Initiative for its Youth Employment Challenge that was launched a few weeks back.
To ensure the sustainability of the Project, a youth center (non-profit organization) for youth leadership will be established. Establishment procedures are ongoing. Since the project is deemed self-sustaining over the long run, strategies are in place to ensure that after the six months of the implementation of this pilot project, it will continue to make impact on Congolese youths. An income-generating activity will be carried out in order to ensure the impact continuity of the program. The vision of the youth center is to become the premiere innovation center that bridges the skills and employment gap in Congo through volunteerism, and it will be run by youths for youths. A long-range fund-raising plan will also be put in place to achieve social impact, as well as long-term partnerships with key stakeholders.
TIMELINE OF MAJOR IMPLEMENTATION STEPS
• Step 1: Conduct a situation analysis to determine the nature of the skills gap (October 2014)
• Step 2: Build partnerships with key stakeholders (October 2014)
• Step 3: Recruit youth volunteers at universities and churches (November 2014)
• Step 4: Train youths on employability skills and social entrepreneurship (November – December 2014)
• Step 5: Place volunteers in host organizations (January – February 2015)
• Step 6: Monitor, evaluate, and revise the project strategy where necessary (October 2014-March 2015)
• Step 7: Share Lessons Learnt and Best Practices (April 2015)
Marketplace: Who else is addressing this problem and how does the proposed solution differ from these approaches?
Founding Story: Share a story about the “Aha!” moment that led you to get started and/or to see the potential for this to succeed.
Team: What roles does your team consist of (i.e. full-time vs. part-time staff, volunteers, board members, etc) and how do you plan to expand the team as the project grows?
Each project team member brings unique skills and experience in implementing this pilot project, and covers the spectrum of technical assistance required for the success of this innovative project.
Gloria Mangoni (Project Team Leader) is a 2014 Mandela Washington Fellowship alumna. She followed the public management track at Florida International University. Since December 2012, she joined the Prime Minister’s office as research analyst in the department of agricultural and rural development policy-making. She has a BS in Geography and Urban Planning from the University of Kinshasa (Democratic Republic of the Congo). She also did an intensive training in GIS and Remote Sensing. Gloria is fluent in English, French and Lingala. She is the BRIDGE project leader.
Roger Mbuyu (Advocacy) is a lecturer at Panafrican University of Congo. He is graduated in Law from University of Kinshasa and masters in International Development from Hankuk University of Foreign Studies of Seoul. He works as program officer at Koica Office and he is very involved in Youth activities especially supporting highschool students in some schools of Kinshasa. Roger is also deeply involved in fighting against corruption and child protection with a local NGO. He is in charge of advocacy in the implementation of BRIDGE.
Soraya Aziz Souleymane (Partnership manager) - is a development specialist. She has intensive experience in good governance and community development fields around mining and industrial projects in the DRC. She received a Masters in Development studies from the University of Sussex (Institute of Development Studies) in addition to a post graduate degree in International Relations specializing in conflict resolution and international diplomacy which she completed in Kenya, and a bachelors’ degree in public law from Université Catholique de Bukavu. Soraya is fluent in English, French, Swahili, Lingala, and enjoys building online networks, cooking, traveling long distances by road, reading and writing. She is in charge of networking and managing corporate partnerships for the BRIDGE project.
Jean-Marc Mercy (Training Coordinator) is a human resources specialist by profession. He has actively participated in the design and implementation of national capacity-building programs in various organizations within the UN system. Jean-Marc went to University of South Africa to receive a BCom in human resource management. He also earned a diploma in Project Management from Ashworth College, and a Master Certificate in Human Resources from Cornell University. He is expecting a Master’s degree in Human Resource and Training from University of Leicester in 2016. Jean-Marc is fluent in English, French, Haitian Creole, Lingala, Spanish and Swahili. He is an active member of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). He is responsible for coordinating training activities and budget monitoring. He also teams up with Soraya for the partnership management side of the project.
Orphée Tamba (Monitoring & Evaluation). With an experience of more than six years as head of youth platforms, with strong diversified background, Orphée Tamba Lusakumumu worked as volunteered in youth organizations while studying at the University of Kinshasa. Orphée is a medical doctor currently working with Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (an American International NGO) at the Monitoring and Evaluation Department. Despite his current occupations, he is engaged for his community and known has a motivational speaker encouraging young people to live in integrity in all aspects of their lives, discussing issues of citizenship, leadership and civic engagement. Orphée is in charge of monitoring and evaluation of the BRIDGE project.
David Kandi (Webmaster) brings 7 years of experience in the field of new technologies. David received a bachelors’ degree in network and database administration at Esmicom Institute. He also undertook a number of training, including a CCNA certificate (Cisco Certified Network Associate) at the University of Kinshasa and a verified certificate in Developing Innovative Ideas for New Companies from University of Maryland via Coursera.org. David’s role in the project will be that of designing and administering a website for the BRIDGE project.