The Coca-Cola Companys Coca-Cola Africa Foundation commits $4.5 million over 3 years to underwrite the design, and launch of the Youth Empowered for Success (YES!) program, a bold new initiative to create sustainable, safe, equitable, and productive jobs for youth across Africa.
The YES! program will help young people access economic opportunities including: jobs, businesses, marketable skills and financial services. The YES! program will be implemented in several African countries, to be determined based on assessment of need and partners. Ultimately, the goal of YES! is to expand across the continent, by bringing on board partners who share Coca-Colas goals and leveraging synergies to scale their programs. The YES! program will have the following components:
YES! Pillars: The program will implement four strategic Pillars: Train, Link, Thrive and the Enabling Environment. Activities under the Train Pillar will build high-impact and market-driven skills, so youth can secure safe, steady and productive employment. Through the Link Pillar, the program will assist youth transition from training to real opportunities to use their new skills and earn income. The Thrive Pillar will focus on supporting youth entrepreneurs to grow their enterprises for bigger results (including recruiting other youth employees) and helping employed youth to succeed and advance in jobs.
YES! Hubs: YES! Hubs are Coca-Colas concept for youth-owned business centers that also serve as a social service platform for youth in their communities. Through the YES! Hubs we will incorporate youth into Coca-Colas value chain through an entrepreneurship retail model that also provides a gathering place for youth who want to network, access services, and check market information.
YES! Monitoring and Evaluation: Coca-Cola will develop and implement robust Monitoring and Evaluation systems and tools to assess program effectiveness and impact and disseminate learning to wider audiences.
For more than 128 years, Coca-Cola has been an integral part of communities, convening multi-stakeholder actors to address local, regional and global challenges. Coca-Cola uses a golden triangle approach to partner with business, government and civil society and build long-term solutions to address local challenges, including youth unemployment. Empowering youth is nothing new for the Coca-Cola system and they strive to learn and improve their learnings to deepen their impact. Coca-Cola has been conducting research among African youth and their findings demonstrated important barriers to youth employment, such as:
- Despite increasing levels of academic achievement, youth are not gaining the practical, technical or soft skills that employers seek. Employers cited key gaps such as a lack of work experience, soft skills and basic business literacy and organizational seek. 27% of Sub Saharan African firms cited skills as major business constraint. As stated by one employer in Nigeria, Soft skills around professionalism and problem solving are the biggest gap.
- In South Africa, 81% of businesses struggle to source talent and as many as 650,000 jobs remain vacant.
- Youth, particularly disadvantaged youth, do not have the resources or the networks needed to find work in the formal sector. In South Africa, approximately 23% of unemployed youth do not have enough transportation money to look for a job. Only 31% of employers in Africa conduct active outreach to youth and roughly 60% of employers hire solely through family or friends because they are wary of hiring a stranger. For a disadvantaged high school graduate whose family and social networks are primarily in the informal economy, this inability to network can be an insurmountable barrier to formal employment.
- African youth, who have been more exposed to western ideals and values than previous generations, have very different life aspirations than their parents/older generations. Despite the difficulties that they experience in finding employment, African youth have higher aspirations and expectations with regards to the type of job that they are seeking, ease and speed of ascendancy, and are more open to entrepreneurship as a way to have control over their own lives. They are looking for jobs that leverage more modern/classroom skills, even in traditional careers such as farming, and place more emphasis on job fit with their preferred lifestyle than seen with previous generations.
Coca-Cola is uniquely qualified to address some of these barriers and they have a number of existing programs that generate continuous learnings as they refine and scale their youth employment efforts around the world.
The Coca-Cola brand itself is extremely relevant among youth, and they have a unique understanding of youth aspirations and behaviors from both their marketing and their knowledge and insights work. The Companys longstanding relevancy and relationship with youth allows them to tailor programs that are exciting, fun and meaningful for this audience. Coca-Cola has a growing percentage of millennials across their own global workforce and have developed a global council to harness their collective input called Millennial Voices. In fact, the Company and their key bottling partners, including Coca-Cola Hellenic, Coca-Cola SABCO, Coca-Cola FEMSA, Coca-Cola Swire, Arca-Continental, Coca-Cola Andina and their own Bottling Investment Group employ strong numbers of millennials, between one-quarter and one-third of their workforce. Additionally, Coca-Cola supports organizations of global youth such as the World Economic Forums Global Shapers community to accelerate the impact of talented and entrepreneurial young Africans in their communities.