Transforming youth skills for the future

By Sofanit Mesfin, Gender and Social Inclusion Coordinator

Africa has the youngest population in the world, with 70% ofsub-Saharan Africaunder the age of 30.  Whilst this carries great opportunity for innovation and development, we must ensure that programmes are targeted at this generation: building skills, confidence and motivation.

As an organisation, Ripple Effect has set a target for our projects to include at least 20% youth by 2030. With inclusivity as one of our key tenets, our training focusses on the empowerment of vulnerable groups often marginalized from society, including girls and youth with disabilities.

Working alongside girls, we address gender inequality and create access and opportunity for them to be involved in agri-business, building income-generating activities of their own.

In Uganda, we support youth who have been orphaned through skills training as varied as motorcycle repair and hairdressing. We also provide start-up kits to support their entrepreneurial ventures and move them from vulnerability to thriving income-generation. The youth members contribute 10% towards the cost of these kits, so they have greater agency over their business plans.

The establishment of savings and loans facilities, through the community groups with which we work, allows members to take turns at investing in their businesses, and further develop their skills. Beyond these elements of enterprise, we must also support the youth in social training, such as HIV awareness and prevention, which can spread quickly through the population.

Robinah, a 21-year-old from Kyotera in Uganda, lost both her parents to HIV when she was still young and grew up with her grandmother. “Life was not easy, our grandmother struggled to raise us. At a certain stage she failed to provide for school fees, and we eventually drop out of school,” Robinah explains.

However, through her work with Ripple Effect, Robinah undertook a tailoring apprenticeship.

“I am so grateful to the Ripple Effect project, as with the apprenticeship program, I received a kill and am now earning at least not less than UGX 120,000 (£27) a month, am able to support my family.”

Robinah, 21, on her tailoring machine Uganda

In Ethiopia, we have recently launched a project - focusing on areas where youth unemployment is high - to build a belief in the possibilities of a better life, and provide the essential skills and training to transform the young peoples’ opportunities.