“There is a great human potential, human capital and great natural resources in Africa, but for me, Africa’s greatest assets are the young people,” said United Nations Youth Envoy Ahmad Alhendawi in 2013. Alhendawi is right. Today, there are nearly 300 million people between ages 10 and 24 in sub-Saharan Africa—and there will be nearly twice as many young people in the region by mid-century.
“As an entrepreneur, there is the tendency to think that money is what gets things done,” said Olumide Adeleye, the founder of the Twim Academy in Ibadan, Nigeria, a school of media and creative arts. He has a different take on what’s required when starting a business—he launched his as a first-year college student, with $10.
“Knowledge is not only in the books — youth have many skills and talents that we should grow and expand in the real world,” he said. “People are already trying to make ends meet, so a practical education can help them survive, as well as prepare for their future.”
One of RLabs most successful innovations are two Youth Cafes that look like “a hybrid of an Apple store and a Starbucks, with a little bit of ‘Googlifying’ of our space,” said RLabs founder Marlon Parker. "We have writing on the walls, artificial turf in the middle of our space, some shapes—some crazy, outrageous stuff." This appearance is no accident, he notes.
Tune in to our G+ Hangout on November 4th at 8:00pm to discuss trends and myths in innovation for youth employment. Across Africa, as in the rest of the world, a faster pace in the workplace signals a drive towards a more creative talent pool that is not afraid to dabble in intrapreneurship and entrepreneurship. Many youth employment solutions incorporate skills training to unlock opportunities for the youth population.
Voice of America's Jackson Mvunganyi sat down with Esther Eshiet and Marlon Parker, two Ashoka Fellows who are working to solve youth employment in Africa as part of the Ashoka’s Future Forward program, a partnership with the MasterCard Foundation. The conversation explored innovative solutions to youth employment in Calabar, Nigeria and in South Africa.
Tune in to our G+ Hangout on October 9th at 12:30pm to discuss developing young leaders and changemakers in Africa. In the 21st century, employment, the workplace and the skill-sets that are needed to thrive are constantly changing.
Editors's Note: This article was written by Paige Elenson. Elenson is the Executive Director of Africa Yoga Project (AYP), a movement that empowers the youth through the transformative power of yoga. A native New Yorker and former Wall Street consultant, she has been teaching yoga for over a decade. Elenson’s incisive skills as a businesswoman, spiritual activist and yogini inspired her work with AYP. This article first appeared on Fair Observer on August 29, 2014.