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The Bridge Project: Building pathways to employment for youths in Kinshasa through volunteerism

The Bridge Project is an online and physical platform of young professionals, which invests in youth potential and aims at 'building bridges' between organizations and youths. The Bridge Project seeks to build pathways to employment for young women and men aged 16-24 in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo through volunteerism, professional skill development and access to mentors and sponsors. Recognizing that volunteerism is an important component of any strategy aimed at youth empowerment, the Bridge Project will build long-lasting partnerships to engage youths in social change through short-term projects, while enabling them to acquire new skills and experience that will increase their employability.

Photo of Jean-Marc Mercy
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How will the Bridge Project Work?
The Bridge Project will be implemented by LEAD, a social enterprise that helps youths tap into their potential. The Bridge Project is about 'making a way where there seems to be no way' because there is no legal framework in favor of volunteerism in Congo; however, the good news is that it is not illegal for organizations to hire volunteers on short to long-term projects. The Bridge Project will collaborate with organizations, the Ministry of Youth and Sports, and other non-profit organizations, and build partnerships with prospective employers through memoranda of understanding. It will recruit volunteers with a potential for growth. These young volunteers will be placed on short to long term assignments with the employers, and will gain skills that make them employable either by the same organization or another.  Because employers are reluctant to employ inexperienced youths, they could at least provide them the opportunity to showcase their potential for growth through volunteerism, which is cost effective for organizations, and beneficial for young volunteers as it enhances their skills and increases their employability.

The Bridge will also provide useful resources to youths such as career training, CV writing skills, access to mentors, access to job opportunities and project management training.

Needs Assessment

The Bridge Project has potential to succeed because there is a need for youths to have decent work in Kinshasa in order to actively participate to the social and economic advancement of their community. This need must be met as soon as possible because youths represent the future of Congo. If we do not take action today, then when we will do so? The DRC is a country full of natural resources, but human resources are still a problem. Youths have great potential for growth, and the Bridge Project will invest on this potential. We need to start somewhere, because it is a process. Youth unemployment rates in Kinshasa are unknown, but they are really high. It is a fact that we see every day in Kinshasa. One of the reasons of this phenomenon is the fact that formal education in DRC does not always equip youths with enough knowledge and skills for the 21st century job market. As a result, there is a mismatch between formal education and the real world of work. The other reason is the lack of career services in universities to prepare students for the job market, which impedes their ability to do basic things like writing a resume or getting ready for a job competency-based interview. Despite the high number of youth centers in DRC, they do not specifically address the issue of youth unemployment. One of the challenges that youths face when filing a job application after their graduation from university is their lack of experience. Yet, society does not always give a chance nor does it help youths get this required experience. Even internship opportunities are not always available because getting an internship opportunity in Kinshasa sometimes implies knowing someone who knows someone who knows someone who can help; and this does not necessarily mean that a positive feedback will be given.

What the Bridge Project will do

While there is a need for a reform in the educational system in Congo, which will take time, the good news is that the Bridge Project is there to try and solve youth unemployment by creating partnerships and volunteer opportunities for young women and men in order to increase their employability. The Bridge will also provide training on entrepreneurship and professional skills. The priority of the Bridge Project is to answer to the immediate needs of youths who finish high school, who want to gain experience through volunteerism, entrepreneurship and access to mentors before they decide to continue their studies at higher education, on one hand, and those who have recently graduated from university and are still struggling to find a decent job, on the other hand. These youths have the potential to actively participate to the social and economic development of their community, and the Bridge Project aims at investing on their potential and increasing their employability. There is a need to be fulfilled. There is a gap to be filled. There is a Bridge to be built.

The good news...

The good news is that organizations always have a project that has never been started or an assignment that is not yet completed, which do not necessarily need an intern. There is still a lot to be done in terms of agricultural projects in remote areas of Kinshasa. The Bukanga Lonzo project is one of these opportunities where youths could volunteer and have access to employment later on. That is where the Bridge Project comes in. We build partnerships with existing organizations in the non-profit sector, public sector and private sector. We get to know their needs and upcoming projects and offer them cost-effective ways to solve their problems: volunteers. We recruit volunteers from high schools and universities to work on short-term projects based on the needs of these organizations. We train these young people on life skills, professional skills and entrepreneurship. We also partner with another social enterprise to train youths on leadership to help them to become change agents. The idea is individual and aims at reducing youth unemployment rates and empowering young women and men  in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, through partnerships with sponsors for entrepreneurships and prospective employers that will provide volunteer opportunities to youths to enhance their skills and prepare them for a more rewarding and decent job.


How will the Bridge Project impact the community?

Research will be conducted and focus groups will be organized in order to address key issues. These are some of the examples of how the Bridge Project will impact the community:


Meet Christelle: Christelle, 24, is a graduate in computer science at Institut Supérieur d’Informatique, de Programmation et d’Analyse (ISIPA). She has always dreamed to create her own computer training center. For three years after her graduation she has been doing small jobs that are not relevant to what she learnt at school, because she never got the chance to be hired because of her lack of experience. She was a waitress at a local restaurant, and quit a year ago. She is now jobless and stays at home, taking care of her younger siblings. She has the potential to do what she is good at, but she does not have the opportunity to land a job in the computer industry. Moreover, she is not very confident that she will get a chance to land a job interview; because she does not know how to prepare a CV (she never did it, by the way). The Bridge Project will train her on writing a good CV, and empower her and help her be self-confident, sign a memorandum of understanding with a local enterprise, where she would work as a volunteer for 6 to 9 months, acquire skills to fulfill her dream.

Meet Antoine: Antoine, 19, is a high school graduate. His mother died a few months after his graduation, and was the only person paying for his studies. His father left DRC for Europe and married another woman. He is left alone with his brothers, and is doing small jobs to feed his younger sister. With the difficult life conditions, they moved and are now staying with their uncle. Antoine is very entrepreneurial and very intelligent; he wants to start a small business in order to get the funds to continue his studies. He has good ideas, but he does not have access to credit. LEAD wants to empower Antoine have help him to get access to credit as little as 300$ to start his small business.

Meet Annie: Annie, 25, studied in Senegal and received a degree in development studies. She came back to DRC, and could not find a job that matches her skills, so she accepted a temporary job as a receptionist at a local company. She wants to serve her community through her knowledge, skills, and potential, but she still has not found a job in her field of expertise. The option left to her is work as a volunteer to put her knowledge into practice.

Meet Paul: Paul, 25, wants to work in the implementation of programs for agriculture. He studied agronomy and received a degree from university of Kinshasa, but he has no experience, and has been jobless for 2 years. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has many volunteer opportunities, but does not find good people to implement its program. LEAD wants to sign a memorandum of understanding with FAO to help people like Paul work on a volunteer assignment on FAO programs, acquire skills and experience that will help him to find a decent job in three years.

These scenarios are just part of the tip of the iceberg. There are many more examples to share on youth unemployment in Kinshasa. Informal discussions have already been held with potential partners, including representatives of local employers and organizations, founders of other NGOs, and people working with the government, and they like the idea, and want to work with us to implement it. We welcome the opportunity of having partners, sponsors, and good-will people that can help to fund the idea and work together to implement it.

Update: 8 September 2014:

A meeting was held on 6 September between the Project team members, and we came up with the document as shown below:

SUMMARY OF THE NEXT STEPS FOR IMPLEMENTING THE BRIDGE PROJECT

(Updated on 8 September 2014)

1. Brief description of the project proposal

This proposal will be submitted to  a funder providing grants to implement the ‘Bridge Project’, an innovative project that seeks to build pathways for youth employment in Kinshasa, DRC through volunteerism, access to mentors, professional skills development (including language skills through the establishment of an English Club), in order to foster youth employment and labor creation. Recognizing that volunteerism is an important component of any strategy aimed at youth empowerment, the Bridge Project will partner with selected organizations to engage youths in short-term projects, while enabling them to engage in social and economic change and acquire new skills and  experience that will make them competitive in the fierce labor market and increase their employability. The Bridge Project will establish a youth center that will act as an incubator for career and leadership skills development, entrepreneurship training, volunteer recruitment center, and library. Each project team member brings unique skills and experience in implementing this pilot project, and covers the spectrum of technical assistance required for the success of this innovative project.

2. Where will the project take place?

The project will take place in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo.

3. Project Dates:
October 2014 – September 2015 (12 months, subject to funding availability)

PROJECT IMPACT

4. What impact will the project have?
• Increased youth employability through volunteerism and skills development.
• Increased access for youths to mentors to foster entrepreneurship
• Increased access for youths to the labor market information and resources
5. What are our goals?
• Establish a youth center that builds a pathway to employment through volunteerism
• Partner with key organizations to help youths gain experience and skills
• Train youths on career and entrepreneurship skills to prepare them for decent work
• Place youths on short-term volunteer assignment to gain employability skills
• Provide youths with career services

6.  Who will benefit?

• 50 youths aged between 18 and 25, including high school graduates with limited resources and unemployed university graduates in various areas of study, carefully selected based on potential for growth.

7. What results do we anticipate?
• Result 1: Increased experience through volunteerism
• Result 2: Increased youth employability and entrepreneurship skills
• Result 3: Increased youth engagement in social and economic issues
• Result 4: Entry to the job market after the short-term volunteer placement
• Result 5: Integrated volunteerism policy as a pathway for youth employment

8 . How will we measure success?
• Number of partnerships built with organizations
• Number of youths (women and men) trained on employability skills
• Number of volunteers placed in key organizations
• Number of volunteers who enter the job market after the volunteer placement
• Volunteerism policy developed

TIMELINE OF MAJOR IMPLEMENTATION STEPS

9. What steps will your team take to implement this project?
• Step 1: Conduct a situation analysis of youth employment to determine the nature of the skills gap between employers and youths.
• Step 2: Build partnerships with key organizations
• Step 3: Recruit volunteers and train youths on employability skills
• Step 4: Place volunteers in identified organizations
• Step 5: Monitor, evaluate, and revise the project strategy where necessary
• Step 6: Share Lessons Learnt and Best Practices

 

What are the next steps for implementing this idea?

Next steps are described above.

Briefly describe a user scenario which illustrates the specific need that your idea is trying to solve.

The Bridge Project hosts an event at the main campus of the University of Kinshasa, and identified Mado, a recent graduate. In a discussion, he discovers that she has growth potential but limited opportunities to employment. The university does not provide career services nor does it help students find entry-level jobs. Finding a job is quite a challenge for recent graduates and can take months and years. Bridges partners with the University of Kinshasa to provide career services to students. Gloria, a Bridge representative uses a designed questionnaire to conduct a training needs analysis through a one-to-one discussion with Mado, and helps her discover her strengths and weaknesses, and recommends a relevant training curriculum (communication skills, marketing and computer software skills) to respond to the labor market needs. Richard, another Bridge representative, makes informal networking discussions with Microsoft4Afrika and Microcom representatives to establish relationships and create mentoring and volunteer opportunities. MicroCom Congo is a reseller of IBM software products based in Kinshasa. Signature of a memorandum of understanding for volunteer placement ensues between Bridge and the two organizations. A mentor is assigned to Mado and orients her on the software industry and keeps contact with her by email on a regular basis. Mado is trained on how to be a better communicator, and how to write a CV. Furthermore she is trained on basic software development and marketing to grasp an idea of the real world. She is also put in touch with a mentor from Microsoft4Afrika. At the same she is put in touch with sponsors in case she has an innovative and entrepreneurial idea. Mado is then placed on a six-month volunteer program with MicroCom Congo. She works on a real software marketing project, and gain skills and experience. On the other hand, MicroCom Congo benefits from her enthusiasm and energy to complete assignments, which is very cost-effective. It’s a win-win partnership. After six months with MicroCom Congo and with the gained experience, Mado has enough confidence to apply for an entry-level position either at MicroCom Congo or any other company in the software industry. Bridge has thus built a pathway to employment for Mado through volunteerism and strong partnerships with other organizations.

Complete a User Experience Map. This will help you visualize how a potential end user will interact with your idea. Once you have completed it, upload it using the Upload File button at the end of this form. PDF files preferred.

  • Completed

Who does this idea benefit, who are the main players and what's in it for them?

This project will benefit unemployed youths located in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, and aged between 18 and 24: those with only a high school diploma, and those who have recently graduated, but did not get the chance to find a decent job, and particularly young women. . The Project will be funded by active members of the leading local NGO that will implement it. The purpose of the project is to build partnerships with existing employers in order to provide short and long-term community volunteer assignments to these young people to help them acquire new skills that will make the more employable. For those who possess a high school diploma, the project will place them on volunteer assignments in local organizations, and for those who had graduated from university, the project will make training and information sessions writing effective CVS and career planning.

How is your idea specifically increasing access to employment opportunities and pathways for young people?

The ‘Bridge Project will increase access to employment opportunities and pathways for young people through its close partnership with prospective employers and its user-friendly blog that will provide useful resources on career management, volunteer and job opportunities for all categories of youths in Kinshasa, and will be promoted through Facebook and other social media. Youths will have the opportunity to freely express their needs and motivations on the blog. The Project will be implemented by LEAD, a non-governmental youth association that promotes youth entrepreneurship and volunteerism, and provides life skills training to unemployed youths in Kinshasa, and will focus on the following areas: training on career skills such as writing a CV and entrepreneurship, provision of useful resources and information through workshops and information sessions, creation and implementation of a job repository and a volunteer management system that links youths to potential employers, and advocacy for a national legal framework for youth employment. The gap between employers and youths is so wide that now, more than ever, is the time to start ‘building bridges’ to fill this gap. Building bridges is about finding sustainable solutions to help youths access to decent work. The challenges that most youths in Kinshasa face are mainly lack of information and useful resources, inadequacy of education and skills that do not respond to employers’ needs, lack of experience, lack of self-esteem, and a feeling of being abandoned. One of the ways to overcome these challenges is to create a cadre where youths would meet and discuss, and have access to mentors and employers’ representatives. Micro-financing youths’ small businesses will be a key component of the project, but only youths who will have demonstrated outstanding performance in the relevant training will have access to funds to start a viable business. This will promote a sense of competition between youths, and will help them to be change agents that participate to the social and economic development of their community. We will train youths to discover the hero in themselves and use their full potential through entrepreneurship. Alternatively, volunteer opportunities will be tripled in order to help inexperienced youths to gain new skills through voluntary action in the community. Choosing to promote volunteerism is one of the best ways to reduce youth unemployment, because volunteerism improves communities, is cost effective for employers, and rewarding for youths in terms of experience and gaining new skills. The first step of the project in the implementation of volunteerism will be to negotiate the signature of memoranda of understanding between the leading NGO and a wide range of employers both in the private and the public sectors. This will necessitate making contacts and networking. Last but not least, we will build strong partnerships with other NGOs, civil society and governments in order to work together towards common objectives.

What early, lightweight experiment can you try out in your own community to find out if the idea will meet your expectations?

Social media will be used extensively to hear more from the youth community. Facebook seems to be the most widely used social media in Kinshasa. A page will be created and we will invite as many people as possible to participate. Face-to-face interactions will also take place. Information sessions and workshops will be organized in order to reach to a wider audience and hear from them. Volunteers of the Bridge Project will also reach out to remote locations.

What skills, input or guidance are you keen to receive from the OpenIDEO community to help you build out or refine your idea further?

I am keen to receive further guidance from OpenIDEO on how best the Bridge Project Model can be implemented. I am a co-founder of a youth development association called LEAD!, and want to find more partners that work towards the same vision to refine the idea further and implement it.

The idea emerged from:

  • An individual

How do you envision your idea being implemented?

  • Keen to prototype it, find partners and pursue implementation
View more

Team (4)

Rehmah's profile
Rehmah Kasule

Role added on team:

"Hi Rehmah, I am glad to add you to the team. Let us work together to help youths unleash their potential. I visited your website, and would be very interested to work with you on refining ideas further. Please let us keep in touch. My email is jmercy2812@gmail.com. Look forward to hearing from you soon. Jean-Marc"

Jean-Marc's profile
Luisa's profile
Luisa Fernanda

Role added on team:

"With her insightful comments and relevant questions, Luisa has greatly contributed in refining the Bridge Project idea."

Roshni's profile

50 comments

Join the conversation:

Comment
Photo of An Old Friend
Team

Jean-Marc, this is a fantastic idea and I applaud you for your efforts. I was just on the initiative's website and I am really looking forward to seeing it grow. Félicitations!

Photo of Jean-Marc Mercy
Team

Thank you Simona -- you can also have a look at our new website here: www.thebridge-youthinitiative.org  -- we have grown since our inception and are looking forward to implementing more projects across the DRC.

Photo of priyanka botny
Team

Congrats Jean! The building a bridge has always been successful. I love learning more from Kinhasa.

Photo of Jes Simson
Team

Well done Jean-Marc and team for a phenomenal idea. I can't wait to see how the Bridge Project grows!

Photo of Leigh Cullen
Team

Jean-Marc Mercy,
Congratulations to you on your winning, stellar idea!
Looking forward to watching your project evolve.
Great work & hats off to you and your team,
Leigh

Photo of Bettina Fliegel
Team

Excited to see your project develop, create opportunities, and bring optimism to youth in DRC Jean-Marc. Congratulations!

Photo of Shane Zhao
Team

Jean-Marc congrats on the amazing progress and accomplishments! Also, the impact phase is now open. I'm looking forward to hearing how the Bridge Project will be implemented. I know the community will look forward to supporting you with feedback in the next phase as well!

Photo of Shane Zhao
Team

Jean-Marc, this is great to hear that you're working on a way to empower women of Kinshasa with better employment opportunities through volunteerism! I'm interested to learn more about the specifics of how the Bridge Project may work on a one to one level for young women. One way that other community members have done this is through the use of scenarios which describe examples of young people may interact with what you had proposed. Check out these scenarios from a previous challenge: https://openideo.com/challenge/e-waste/concepting/neighbourhood-e-waste-champion/

Photo of Jean-Marc Mercy
Team

Shane, thank you for commenting. I checked out the scenarios from the link you sent, and they are very insightful! Thanks. The Bridge Project will empower young women with better employment opportunities through volunteerism and entrepreneurship by putting them to work on volunteer assignments or social projects, and connecting them to mentors that will inspire them to either create their own job or gain more confidence to volunteer and enhance skills in a given profession. Look forward to hearing from your ideas soon.

Photo of Meena Kadri
Team

Sounds exciting Jean-Marc. Shanes's suggestion to create some scenarios to help explain the pathway for a young person from volunteering through to employment could be really helpful – we're looking forward to learning more!

Photo of Luisa Fernanda
Team

Great conversation and initiative.

Jean-Marc do you have an idea of what type of industries would be most relevant to place young women in Kinshasa at? Do you have any partners in mind? It seems like you are already working with youth, it would be very useful to learn more about your users, who are these young women? Are they high school students, young people out of school and work, college graduates?

The scenarios tool will be great to help you get to the specifics, think of the right partners and start sketching out a way to do the simplest experiment you can to learn more about your idea,
Luisa

Photo of Jean-Marc Mercy
Team

Shane, Luisa, Meena,
Thanks all for your thought-provoking comments. Here are some scenarios with specifics on how the Bridge Project will work:

Christelle, 24, is a graduate in computer science at Institut Supérieur d’Informatique, de Programmation et d’Analyse (ISIPA). She has always dreamed to create her own computer training center. For three years after her graduation she has been doing small jobs that are not relevant to what she learnt at school, because she never got the chance to be hired because of her lack of experience. She was a waitress at a local restaurant, and quit a year ago. She is now jobless and stays at home, taking care of her younger siblings. She has the potential to do what she is good at, but she does not have the opportunity to land a job in the computer industry. Moreover, she is not very confident that she will get a chance to land a job interview; because she does not know how to prepare a CV (she never did it, by the way). LEAD will train her on writing a good CV, and empower her and help her be self-confident, sign a memorandum of understanding with a local enterprise, where she would work as a volunteer for 6 to 9 months, acquire skills to fulfill her dream.

Antoine, 19, is a high school graduate. His mother died a few months after his graduation, and was the only person paying for his studies. His father left DRC for Europe and married another woman. He is left alone with his brothers, and is doing small jobs to feed his younger sister. With the difficult life conditions, they moved and are now staying with their uncle. Antoine is very entrepreneurial and very intelligent; he wants to start a small business in order to get the funds to continue his studies. He has good ideas, but he does not have access to credit. LEAD wants to empower Antoine have help him to get access to credit as little as 300$ to start his small business.

Annie, 25, studied in Senegal and received a degree in development studies. She came back to DRC, and could not find a job that matches her skills, so she accepted a temporary job as a receptionist at a local company. She wants to serve her community through her knowledge, skills, and potential, but she still has not found a job in her field of expertise. The option left to her is work as a volunteer with LEAD’s programs to put her knowledge into practice.

Paul, 25, wants to work in the implementation of programs for agriculture. He studied agronomy and received a degree from university of Kinshasa, but he has no experience, and has been jobless for 2 years. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has many volunteer opportunities, but does not find good people to implement its program. LEAD wants to sign a memorandum of understanding with FAO to help people like Paul work on a volunteer assignment on FAO programs, acquire skills and experience that will help him to find a decent job in three years.

These scenarios are just part of the tip of the iceberg. There are many more examples to share on youth unemployment in Kinshasa. Informal discussions have already been held with potential partners, including representatives of local employers and organizations, founders of other NGOs, and people working with the government, and they like the idea, and want to work with us to implement it. Could be also good to have international partners, sponsors, and good-will people that can help to fund the idea. Look forward to hearing from you all again soon.

Photo of Meena Kadri
Team

Nice one, J-M! We'd recommend you add these directly to your post so everyone can read about them easily. You can edit your post to add them there at any time by hitting the Update Entry button up there on the right.

Photo of Jean-Marc Mercy
Team

Meena, thanks for your recommendation. I have add the comments to my post so everyone can read them easily. Looking forward to hearing more ideas from others as well!

Photo of Meena Kadri
Team

Great stuff. I've used my Community Manager super powers to shift them up into your main description area (& you'll see that this way you can format them slightly to make things even more clear. Feel free to adjust formatting to suit you if you like) We're excited about seeing this idea grow...

Photo of Meena Kadri
Team

And as you continue to develop your idea towards making it real, I thought you might find our tips on prototyping useful: http://ideo.pn/pr0t0type

Photo of Roshni Patel
Team

Congrats! Look forward to being part of this team as the project evolves.

Photo of Rehmah Kasule
Team

Congratulations Jean-Marc Mercy,
Great news! We did it!!!

Photo of Hima Batavia
Team

You have some great ideas here Jean-Marc! I certainly believe in the power of volunteering to gain, improve and enhance skill sets. I wrote a bit about my experience with a non-profit organization called Endeavor that matches young professionals with NGOs for specific 6-month strategy consulting engagements. You can read more here: https://openideo.com/challenge/youth-employment-pathways/research/skill-based-volunteering

One piece of feedback that I received and that I've also reflected on since, is thinking about "stipend-based" engagements, especially for unemployed youth. In the North America, it is becoming legally mandated to have to pay a stipend for interns and internships...due to what many call the "exploitation of labour." Something to consider!

Photo of Jean-Marc Mercy
Team

Hima, thanks for your suggestions. In fact I was thinking about it yesterday. I thought about a mechanism where the NGO has an income-generating activity, and pays as small as 5$ a day to the volunteer to cover transport fees, which makes about 130$ a month. Negotiating a stipend with the host organization could be ideal, added to the transport fees. It is better than nothing for the volunteer. We will have at least made a small difference. And if the project gets funds from fundraising activities and other donors, we could improve the situation of volunteers. We can start from there, and who knows? The host organization may absorb the volunteer who will have demonstrated strong skills at no cost! I like your "stipend-based" approach, but I am fearing that employers may be reluctant at first, but we can give it a try. Nothing is impossible in this world, if we just believe. Look forward to more feedback from you.

Photo of Roshni Patel
Team

Jean-Marc, great ideas but specifically targeted to the Congo. How would you suggest scaling this model for other African countries (or even internationally?) My parents are from Kenya and Tanzania, and I can see a similar model working there.

Photo of Jean-Marc Mercy
Team

Roshni,

Thanks for your post. Actually the Bridge project in the DRC is a prototype that could be applied anywhere in the world, because youth unemployment is a global issue. One thing that I am thinking about is to create partnerships at international level. I have already agreed with some of the OpenIdeo community members (e.g. Rehmah Kasule) to work with them beyond this platform. And yes, we could partner and scale up the Bridge model in Kenya and Tanzania. Are you working on a similar project? I would be interested to learn more on what you. Please feel free to write me an email: jmercy2812@gmail.com.

Photo of Roshni Patel
Team

Fantastic!

Photo of Rehmah Kasule
Team

Jean-Marc,
The next steps are fine; one thing, make the subheadings bold eg Results. It not easy to read. See my email.

Photo of Meena Kadri
Team

Actually there's no way to currently add formatting for submission form questions like the one on " What are the next steps for implementing this idea?" If you want to add formatting, you can shift your answer up the Description area (formatting possible) and just write "see above" as you answer for the question – as Liz has done here: https://openideo.com/challenge/youth-employment-pathways/ideas/techcorps

Photo of Jean-Marc Mercy
Team

Thanks Meena. I have just shifted the content under the Description area.

Photo of Shane Zhao
Team

Hi Jean-Marc, my blog featuring your new experience map just went up. Check it out here!: https://openideo.com/blog/youth-employment-challenge-community-ambassador-update-5

In addition, I know that you were planning to meet with some potential partners in Kinshasa to present the Bridge project this coming week. It would be great to keep us updated on the takeaways that you will have receive from the feedback session. Creating a new "Feedback" or "Updates" section would be a good way of keeping us in the loop of how your idea is progressing. Testing the Bridge Project out with a focus group of students or potential partners would definitely show how your idea can be brought closer to implementation.

Your new experience map can also be a powerful tool to use during the meeting in terms of getting feedback much faster than if you were just using words to describe your idea. I'm looking forward to hear about some of the new discoveries that may come!

Photo of Jean-Marc Mercy
Team

Hi Shane. Thank you for featuring the updated experience map. I met with some potential partners last week, and together we came up with a plan on the next steps to implement the Bridge Project. You will see an updated version under "What are the next steps to implement your idea". Look forward to your feedback.

Photo of Rehmah Kasule
Team

Jean, I tried your skype but you didn't pick, look at the documents that I have sent and revert to me. We talk later.

Photo of Luisa Fernanda
Team

Jean-Marc,
Great job on the User Experience Map and detailed explanation of the program. I am curious learn if universities in DRC have an office or team in charge of helping students find employment? In some universities in the US, the career service office helps students find internships. It also helps them prepare their CV and get ready for interviews. Do universities in DRC have a similar department? If so how do you envision the Bridge project will work in tandem with this office? How do you plan to work in partnership with universities? How do students find about The Bridge project?

Photo of Jean-Marc Mercy
Team

Luisa,

Thanks for your comments. One of the reasons why the Bridge Project has to be implemented is because (unfortunately) universities in DRC do not have offices helping students find employment. In fact, I was thinking of hosting events in universities to inform students about the Bridge Project, which could be a starting point of fruitful partnerships with universities, whereby the Bridge Project will provide career services to students.

Photo of Luisa Fernanda
Team

Thanks for clarifying Jean-Marc.

From your experience what is the most common need that young graduates in Kinshasa have while looking for a job? Do they need training in soft skills? Do they need support training for interviews? Do they need to find out what opportunities are available to them? If you were to start addressing one problem what would it be? What activity would you use to address it?

Narrowing down the problem and action plan might allow you to start focusing on a small group of youth for a short amount of time so that you can learn, test assumptions reflect on these learnings and incorporate them to a bigger experiment.

Photo of Luisa Fernanda
Team

Jean-Marc,
I love how you have identified LEAD as a partner. Have you reached out to them?
Excited about this possibility!

Photo of Jean-Marc Mercy
Team

Luisa,

From my experience, the most common need that young graduates in Kinshasa have while looking for a job is training for interviews, soft skills, how to write a CV, and information about the needs of the job market. Being an HR professional, I have received dozens of CVs from graduates that did not impress me because they were poorly written. Also, graduates have the knowledge but not the skills, and skills are acquired through experience. There is a mismatch between formal education and the needs of employers. I am planning to conduct a research with focus groups of 50 students in two universities in Kinshasa.

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Team

Congratulations on making it to the Youth Employment Challenge Refinement list, Jean-Marc.This idea inspired us with its clear vision and understanding of the challenge and the employment gap that needs to be 'bridged’. The profiles of potential beneficiaries were helpful in illuminating both the need and how this solution could uniquely and individually address it. As you continue developing this idea further, we encourage you to lay out the next steps for trying out a first experiment of this idea. For this purpose, you might want to start thinking about and reaching out to potential partner organizations. What else do you think is required to start with a cohort of 3 or 4 individuals following the program? What are the concrete next steps to reach out to young people and onboard them? What is the role of employers during this process? We would love to learn what you find out with this experiment. We are also interested in learning how can organizations benefit aside from volunteer help, since they'll need to invest resources in supervising and training? Do you think it might be beneficial to incorporate mentorship or professional skills training as part of the program? We look forward to seeing how you continue to shape this idea. Check out more tips for Refinement: http://bit.ly/oi-refine

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Team

Thanks for the encouragement. I am working on next steps of the Bridge Project, and will share them with you shortly.

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You can now grab some challenge-specific Refinement tips here: http://ideo.pn/ye-refine-tips Looking forward to your agile refinement-moves to strengthen your idea for impact!

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Jean-Marc,
I am traveling right now, please send me an email so that I send you some ideas to Emin this project. Email: rehmah71@gmail.com

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Team

Rehmah, I have sent you an email. Look forward to hearing from you soon.

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Hey team, congratulations. Let's finalize this idea. We are two of us, sp let us hit the ground running.

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Team

Jean-Marc,
These are great ideas but as you know, companies and organizations have reduced their in-takes for internship simple because the numbers are overwhelming. These are some ideas we can work on:
1. Leadership skills: Train and mentor the youth to have 21st Century skills so that they are competitive and relevant in the job market. These will include among others: skills like self-discovery, goal setting, communication, confidence are critical is enabling youth to think by themselves, have critical and problem solving skills and get confidence to take on challenges. Also do the specific cv writing and interviews trainings. Once the youth are confident and have self descipline we can then connect them to potential employers
2. Skills Apprenticeship: still due to fewer numbers of opportunities, we focus the apprenticeship/internship on skills. For example a youth goes to learn how to trade, make art and crafts, cook food, make furniture, repair vehicles etc. this way, by the time the youth finishes the 4-6 months, they an start their own businesses. If on the other hand we focus on them just going to a company to learn how to type or do adnmistrative work, they will never grow, they will acquire the work experience but they may not get skilled enough, the will then end up either unemployed or stuck in another voluntary or low paying job.
3. Fundraising: the project needs to fund raise money so that the youth are paid interns, this motivates them and gives them skills in handling money. If the project doesn't have money, employers will be reluctant to take on interns due to financial constraints.
4. Mentorship: each women should be connected to a mentor within the organization or company to help them grow. We need to develop a Stragegy on how to monitor the relationship and even train the two (mentor and Mentee) on what to expect, do and th results or goals they should reach by a certain period. Mentee's development will add to the mentor's performance in appraisals.
5. Formation of a mentoring Club: the youth need to form a club for peer-to-peer learning, sharing and collaborations.

I hope these make some meaning to the project.

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Team

Dear Jean-Marc,
Add me to up your team. I have great ideas on how we can build this further beyond this forum, I run a similar program in Uganda a youth Apprenticeship mentoring initiative and it has evolved over the years. You can reach me on email and also read about my work here www.ceda-Uganda.org and my idea here is CATHY (Catch Them Young). I also have great networks in DRC that coud support you.

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Team

Hi Rehmah,

Thanks for networking. I have added you to my team. Please also put me in touch with your networks in DRC to further refine and implement the Bridge Project.

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Congrats on this post being today's Featured Contribution!

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Congrats, Jean-Marc!

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Team

Thank you! I feel honoured and humbled by the fact the Bridge Project is today's Featured Contribution. I look forward to finding partners to refine the idea and implement it.

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Excited to see the great collaboration around this idea. Great work, Jean-Mark! Looking forward to seeing the results from your research interviews.

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Team

Thanks, Guy. I will post the results soon!

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Team

Luisa,

The Bridge Project is in its design phase, and has not yet been tried before in Kinshasa. The idea came from the observation that employers require a certain number of years of experience to land a job, while many youths are inexperienced, and thus become marginalized in the recruitment process. I had informal discussions with young women and men on their aspirations and willingness to volunteer in order to gain experience, and the feedback was very positive. So the next step for us will be to conduct a research on a sample of 500 youths in a given area of the city. The findings will be extrapolated, and then we will take the necessary action. The first service we can offer a young person, in my opinion, is to help them discover themselves and build a CV that showcase their strengths. I think we will start doing simple things such training youths how to write a CV and informing them on the opportunities and challenges of the current labor market in DRC.

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Team

Jean-Marc,
I love the scenarios, it really helps me understand who your users are and their motivations to take part in this initiative. Since you are already working with youth, I wonder if there is a way you can conduct a simple experiment to learn where you are taking this idea next.
What is the first service you can offer one young person?
What do you learn from this interaction?
Excited to hear stories!
It might also be interesting to learn which organizations are already doing this type of work in Kinshasa, learn what they are doing and what are gaps in the space that you can start to focus on?