Future Forward: Youth Innovations for Employment in Africa

 

Future Forward identifies and supports social entrepreneurs and changemakers creating innovative solutions to youth employment in sub-Saharan Africa. The initiative also convenes a wider community of practitioners, thought leaders and young Africans who help spread insights and approaches that shift the conversation from problems to solutions.

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Challenge Winners

Hado Nicaise Sawadogo

Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso

Olumide Adeleye

Ibadan, Nigeria

Ellen Chilemba

Lilongwe, Malawi

Alain Nteff

Bamenda and Buea, Cameroon

Eric Kaduru

Kyenjojo, Uganda

Blog

An increasingly dynamic and fluid workplace requires all young African job seekers to be adaptable, and to have an open and innovative mindset. For this, education is vital. How is education evolving in the continent and how is it set to impact the livelihoods of young people? What are the opportunities for young people to shape the future of the education sector?

Jun 17, 15
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Taddy Blecher founded the Maharishi Institute: the first university to provide free full-time and part-time education to young people throughout South Africa, in turn preparing them for work.

Jun 15, 15
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Find out how a robotics revolution in Ugandan primary schools is engaging students and creating a new generation thinkers and innovators who can shape opportunities for the future.

May 20, 15
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Entries

Timeline

Winner is Announced

January 14, 2015
  • Launch
    September 17, 2014
  • Early Entry Deadline
    October 15, 2014
  • Entry Deadline
    November 5, 2014
  • Finalists are Announced
    January 7, 2015
  • Winner is Announced
    January 14, 2015

As part of the Future Forward partnership, Ashoka and The MasterCard Foundation launched the Future Forward: Youth Innovations for Employment in Africa challenge to find bold new ideas—for young people and by young people—that will address the big picture issues around youth employment in Africa.

Youth have the potential to build a better future for Africa and solve the staggering rates of unemployment across the continent. By creating new solutions, young people can equip themselves with the right 21st century tools and skills that will lead to more meaningful, stable, and long-term careers. Through these solutions, African youth can be the leaders and changemakers that are powering a future that meets the demands of a rapidly evolving workplace. Let’s transform the environments where young people work and cultivate opportunities. Let’s change the way people look at employment in Africa.

Big picture solutions could include (but are certainly not limited to):

  • Triggering new industries, including innovations in the informal sector
  • Improving access to more inclusive and dynamic work environments for marginalized young people
  • Helping young people acquire changemaking and entrepreneurship skills to recognize and create new opportunities around market-driven solutions
  • Creating opportunities for youth employment in rural areas to decrease rural-to-urban migration
  • Creating relationships of trust and collaboration between businesses and young people that advance market-driven training and skills development programs   
  • Prioritizing effective role modeling and mentorship to help young people identify careers based on interest and passions
  • Improving the models of collaboration between governments, businesses, and citizen-sector organizations for greater impact

If you are from sub-Saharan Africa and between the ages of 18 and 30, Ashoka Changemakers and the MasterCard Foundation invite you to share your ideas for creating bright futures for young people in Africa, and giving them better pathways to meaningful and sustainable careers. Submitting your entry will give you the opportunity to receive helpful feedback from Ashoka and your like-minded peers. The Future Forward challenge is a place where you can refine your idea, gain inspiration, and help build a network for change.

The five top solutions will each receive $1,500 USD in unrestricted funding to be used towards the implementation of the work described in their challenge entry and an all-expenses-paid trip to the Ashoka Globalizer Summit in South Africa next February, where they will receive training, support, and visibility that is critical to their growth and realizing the full impact of their social innovations.

To find out more about the challenge procedures, including information about eligibility, prizes, and criteria for success, read the Guidelines and Criteria below.

The Future of youth employment in Africa is in your hands and we need your idea to take it Forward.

 

About the Future Forward partnership:

The Future Forward partnership aims to identify and support the most innovative social entrepreneurs who address youth employment challenges in sub-Saharan Africa. Through this collaboration, Ashoka and The MasterCard Foundation aim to identify and convene innovators, thought leaders, and youth to inform the conversation about solutions that can move #AfricaYouthFwd.

 

Eligibility

  • The challenge is open to all individuals, and their organizations (not-for-profit organizations, social enterprises, businesses, schools, etc.) that are implementing, or plan to implement, the work described in their entry in sub-Saharan Africa. (This includes all African countries EXCEPT Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Tunisia, Western Sahara, and Sudan.)
  • Entrants must be from an eligible country in sub-Saharan Africa and between the ages of 18 and 30.
  • Entrants based outside of sub-Saharan Africa must be explicit in their entry about their plan to implement their solution in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • The top five entrants that will receive an all-expense paid trip to the Ashoka Globalizer Summit in South Africa must be able to travel to South Africa for an event in early February, 2015 (this includes having a valid passport).
  • Solutions should reflect the theme of the challenge Future Forward: Youth Innovations for Employment in Africa. We want to hear how your solution is addressing youth employment in sub-Saharan Africa. Solutions that increase employment opportunities for young people, and/or increase the employability of young people are eligible. The types of solutions that are eligible could include, but are not limited to:
    • Triggering new industries, including innovations in the informal sector
    • Improving access to more inclusive and dynamic work environments for marginalized young people
    • Helping young people acquire changemaking and entrepreneurship skills to recognize and create new opportunities around market-driven solutions
    • Creating opportunities for youth employment in rural areas to decrease rural-to-urban migration
    • Creating relationships of trust and collaboration between businesses and young people that advance market-driven training and skills development programs   
    • Prioritizing effective role modeling and mentorship to help young people identify careers based on interest and passions
    • Improving the models of collaboration between governments, businesses, and citizen-sector organizations for greater impact
  • Entries must be written in English, French, or Portuguese.

Prizes

Challenge Winners

The top five entries in the challenge, determined by a panel of expert judges, will receive the following prizes:

  • Ashoka Globalizer Summit: An invitation and all-expense paid trip to South Africa for the Ashoka Globalizer Summit in early February, 2015. There they will be joining an ecosystem of, and networking with, other top innovators, thought leaders, Ashoka Fellows, and potential investors that can help them scale and increase the impact of their work.
  • Funding: $1,500 USD in unrestricted funding to be used towards the implementation of the work described in their challenge entry.

Early Entry Winners

The top three entries that enter the challenge by October 15, 2014 will receive the following prize:

  • Early Entry Prize: Three Early Entry Winners will each receive an Ashoka produced article profiling their work and $500 USD of promotional ads on Facebook.

Challenge Finalists and Semi-Finalists

The top entries in the Future Forward Challenge will be publicly recognized as semi-finalists and finalists on the Future Forward website.


Why You Should Enter

In addition to the challenge prizes, entrants in this challenge will:

  • Join a community and network of like-minded peers that are working to increase employment opportunities for young people in Africa. Participating in the challenge gives you the opportunity to forge relationships with, and gain visibility, among like-minded innovators, impact partners, sector experts, and potential investors.
  • Receive constructive feedback about your work and how you present it in your entry.
  • Explore other innovations in the field, so you learn more about what others are doing, and how your work fits into the sector. 

How to Enter

  • Complete the entry form and submit it by the entry deadline: November 5, 2014 at 17:00h GMT. If you submit your entry early, you may continue to edit and modify it until this deadline.
  • For advice about how to create a better entry and boost your chances of winning, read these tips.
  • If you have any questions about the entry process, or experience any problems when entering the challenge, please contact lmarino@ashoka.org.

Criteria

Top entries in the Future Forward challenge will be those that best meet the following criteria:

Innovation

The best entries will be those that present a uniquely effective approach to increasing employment opportunities for young people in sub-Saharan Africa. This can mean creating or increasing access to jobs, and/or increasing the employability of young people in Africa. Entries should describe how their solutions are driven by original, ground-breaking ideas. Innovation does not necessarily involve inventing something entirely new; however, entries that present a unique approach to addressing the challenges and barriers facing youth employment will be stronger. The strongest entries will clearly summarize their solution’s key activities aimed at meeting their goals.

Social Impact

Entries must describe how they are increasing employment opportunities for youth in sub-Saharan Africa. The best solutions will feature demonstrated impact, as well as the potential to grow the impact on a regional or national scale. Entries should explain how the solution measures impact through both quantitative and qualitative data. Entries in the idea stage with no demonstrated impact to date should explain what kind of impact their solution will create and how they plan on measuring that impact.

Sustainability

Entries should have a clear plan for reaching long-term goals and securing financial backing. They should describe not only how they currently finance their work, but also how they plan to finance it in the future. They should also have a realistic time frame for implementation. The most successful entrants demonstrate that they have strong partnerships to address ongoing needs, support scalability, and maintain a clear financial strategy.


Challenge Deadlines

  • Entry Stage: September 17, 2014 - November 5, 2014, 17:00h GMT
  • Early Entry Deadline: October 15, 2014, 17:00h GMT
    • Entries received by 5 p.m. GMT on October 15, 2014 are eligible for an early entry prize. Receiving an early entry prize does not preclude you from being selected for other Challenge prizes.
  • Final Entry Deadline: November 5, 2014, 17:00h GMT
  • Judging and Evaluation: November 5, 2014 – January 14, 2015
  • Finalists Announced: January 5, 2015 (specific date to be confirmed)
  • Winners Announced: January 14, 2015 (specific date to be confirmed)
  • Ashoka Globalizer Summit: Early February, 2015 (specific date to be confirmed)
 

 

 

Director

African Leadership Academy Centre for Entrepreneurial Leadership

President & CEO

Youth for Technology Foundation (YTF)

Management Consultant

Mandela Washington Fellow