Junior Achievement (JA) Africa commits to identify, train, and nurture 500 additional marginalized young African entrepreneurs in one year, through the ITS TYME (Immersion Training Strategy: Targeting Young Marginalized Entrepreneurs) pilot program. ITS TYME will strategically scale up in its existing pilot countries, Kenya, Tanzania, and Zambia, reaching 150 new youth and will also be expanding to one new country, Ghana, reaching an additional 350 marginalized youth. The program focuses on out of school youth between the ages of 15 and 35 and will teach them life skills, financial literacy training and money management skills, employability and work readiness skills, entrepreneurship and the importance of banking and saving. It will also expose them to apprenticeship and mentoring opportunities.
The project will be delivered through four different mechanisms depending on the location; 1) Partners (other NGOs who are reaching the same population of youth with other interventions); 2) Trained alumni who function as volunteer facilitators (but receive a small stipend); 3) Paid facilitators; and 4) JA Africa staff located across the country.
The two key challenges of this program are the transient nature of the target population and limited access to markets. To mitigate these challenges, JA will work with community gatekeepers (local NGOs and CBOs who are already serving these populations). JA will also develop partnerships with industry leaders and relevant personnel to determine specific product and service needs that youth can be trained to meet in their communities.
In the first year, Junior Achievement will partner with Barclays Bank. Barclays will provide funding support and staff volunteer time. Depending on the location, Barclays staff will also assist with brokering relationships with microfinance institutions. At the end of the program, young entrepreneurs will compete alongside their counterparts from other sub-Saharan African countries. They will be competing for the regional company of the year award for the best youth owned business. Subsequently, JA will help link them to opportunities for business incubation, capital investment, and professional mentoring.
ITS TYME Program Implementation Timeline
Month 1: Baseline assessment and selection of program beneficiaries and channel partners; sign MOUs with channel partners. This stage will also focus on content adaptation, where necessary. Curriculum experts from each country will be tasked with reviewing the current ITS TYME training modules, incorporating lessons learned from the pilot countries and adapting them to the local Ghanaian context.
Month 1-2: Marketing program to beneficiaries (students and out of school youth); Enroll program participants.
Month 2-3: Launch program; administer baseline assessment and pre-tests of students; begin training.
Month 3-7: Program facilitation of the ITS TYME program using revised manuals and other supplementary material. This stage includes life skills training, immersion training and job shadowing/apprenticeship, which incorporate technology, interactive dialogues on career paths, goal setting, and work etiquette. Additionally, participants learn about savings models, business concepts and develop analytical, communication, and team building skills.
Month 6: Submit interim report
Month 7: Once the young people have completed the immersion training and job shadowing/apprenticeship sessions, the project will link them, through its banking partners to credit facilities that are designed especially for them. Project staff and volunteers will also work with youth groups to prepare them to be part of innovative savings schemes that encourage them to develop disciplined savings habits. Additionally, national and regional competitions and trade fairs will be held to give participants an opportunity to showcase their products and skills while competing with other entrepreneurs based on predefined criteria.
Month 8: Participation in the Regional Company of the Year competition. The young entrepreneurs who go through the ITS TYME program will be eligible to participate in the JA Africa regional company of the year competition. The Company of the Year Competition is a signature showcase for Junior Achievement, its sponsors and, most importantly, the students who have benefitted from the impact of JAs entrepreneurship training. This annual event allows JAs young entrepreneurs to demonstrate their business acumen and spirit of entrepreneurship in a competitive environment that engages business, education and policy leaders as well as the media. Previously designed for in school students between the ages of 15 and 19 this activity will this year be offered as a parallel event for the older out of school youth.
Month 9-10: Relationship Management and continuous monitoring of programs and reporting by JA Africa
Month 10-11: Survey measurement of program impact. Post-test evaluation. Analyze data and identify at least one change in program to improve participant outcomes
Month 12: Final grant reporting upon completion of year one followed by ongoing mentoring
Other activities that will be ongoing throughout the project include donor collaboration and alumni networking. This cycle will be repeated for each new cohort of entrepreneurs in subsequent years.
At present, sub-Saharan Africa has the highest youth growth rate in any region in the world; by 2025 it will be home to 25% of the global youth population. Of this group, an astounding number are not attending school; in 2007 it was estimated that the region accounts for approximately 45% of the worlds out-of-school population. To compound the situation, every year approximately 7 to 10 million young people in the region enter into a weak labor market, where high unemployment, low productivity, and poverty-level income are commonplace.
To further aggravate the situation, Africas education systems generally promote memorization and repetition as teaching methods. Students are taught how to pass exams instead of how to succeed in a world where self-initiative, self-reliance, and entrepreneurship are required. Consequently, many young people, whether they drop out of school at an early age or go on to graduate, are severely unprepared for the job market and ill equipped to face the challenges of an independent adult life.
Teaching entrepreneurship to marginalized African youth, and especially those out of school, is a critical necessity for the economic growth and stability of African communities. Key actions that need to be taken include: 1) developing culturally appropriate and academically relevant entrepreneurship training content to bridge the gap between classroom instruction and industry needs; 2) nurturing start up enterprises that can create self-employment and jobs for others, giving marginalized youth practical exposure to real business through apprenticeships and mentoring opportunities; and 3) facilitating financial inclusion for un-banked youth through the creation of savings schemes.
JA is seeking an additional $180,188 to support the expansion of ITS TYME into Ghana. JA is also seeking implementing partners in the form of local NGOs and community based organizations to support this effort. JA, through its member nations in Africa has already built a significant track record helping young people create socially responsible income generating opportunities for themselves and their families throughout the region. However, in order to ensure and increase the impact of JA programs, we need to identify strategic partnerships that will augment the entrepreneurship training with vocational skills, business incubation and mentoring and provide access to finances through group savings schemes and financial providers for the out of school program. Furthermore, we need corporate partners who will volunteer to mentor the young entrepreneurs and provide or facilitate access to finance for the startup ventures.
JA Africa is part of a global network of more than 120 countries. As part of this network JA Africa has access to educational resources, experts and best practices that will be available to the partners on this initiative. In addition, JA has been in operation in Africa for more than 35 years, reaching young people in and out of school with relevant skills in financial literacy, work readiness and entrepreneurship. The organization has built a strong working relationship within the education sector, governments, financial providers, civil societies and the community. Junior Achievement offers international recognition as a leader in providing strong skills and entrepreneurship education. Junior Achievement also offers staff both at the Regional Operating Center and in its member nations that are knowledgeable on the training content and monitoring of impact of the same. Additionally, Junior Achievement partnerships offer opportunities to provide thought leadership/mentoring, a platform for innovative donor collaborations as well as participation within a network of alumni, expert volunteers and other industry leaders that work collectively on youth entrepreneurship programs. A partnership with JA offers increased media visibility in the sub-Saharan region of Africa through a variety of social media outlets, special events and international conferences.