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EmpowerX: Empowering youth with skills for a better future in the digital economy

EmpowerX is a skills accelerator that trains the youth in soft, digital and business skills to connect them to global digital economy.

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EXPLAIN YOUR IDEA

EmpowerX is an accelerated learning program through which the youth can learn skills of the future to find better jobs as freelancers and connect to online job marketplace and/or get enabled enough to launch their own businesses.

The idea of EmpowerX is based on the concept that with increasing digital economy around the world, there is an increase in the demand of digital skills and therefore we are training the youth in these skills so they are able to connect with the international online job market. The model has been very successful in South Asia and therefore we want to use the same model and apply it in Kenya to make the youth active contributors to the digital economy.

Our theory of change is to empower the youth through digital skills and entrepreneurship and we are doing that by training them in 3 major areas such as (1) soft skills (2) digital skills and (3) business skills

Soft skills are skills that are needed by employers such as good communication, decision making, showing commitment, time management, creativity, leadership and problem solving.

Digital skills are the skills of the future that give the youth competitive edge such as learning how to build a website, designing, data analysis, virtual assistance, content writing, digital marketing etc.

Business skills are the skills required to launch a business such as entrepreneurship, freelancing, team management, project management, marketing, finance, legal etc.

WHO BENEFITS?

This program is targeted towards the youth aged 20-35 and offers a well structured approach to training the youth through different levels of skills. The outcome of the program is to create empowered individuals who are active contributors to the digital economy.

Here we want to take the opportunity to share the story of Kashif who is one of the beneficiaries of our program from Pakistan.

TELL US MORE ABOUT YOU

EmpowerX is a collaboration between Emerging Leaders Foundation and School of Skills. Emerging Leaders Foundation is a Kenyan leadership platform for the youth that has reached over 6000 youth and School of Skills is a global online platform to learn skills for a better future.

WHERE WILL YOUR IDEA BE IMPLEMENTED?

  • Kenya

EXPERIENCE IN IMPLEMENTATION COUNTRY(IES)

  • Yes, for more than one year.

EXPERTISE IN SECTOR

  • I’ve worked in a sector related to my idea for over a year

HOW HAS YOUR IDEA CHANGED BECAUSE OF BENEFICIARY FEEDBACK?

There are three major ways in which the idea has really improved.

1. We have learned most of the unemployed youth has some sort of formal education but they do not posses any relevant digital skills and this is one of the great learning for our program. Now, instead of focusing on the hardcore digital skills, our program will now put its focus toward beginner to intermediate level digital skills which are relatively easy to learn in a shorter period of time as this will result in the users being able to go online and find jobs faster.


2. Another big learning for us was to realise from feedback that teaching the youth digital skills only does not help much. Therefore the true way to empower them is to create an-to-end cycle and get partners on board who would employ people who are trained through our program.

For this we built a prototype marketplace platform called "SkillsForce" http://skillsforce.co

3. Initially we planned to run this training online (http://schoolofskills.co) but talking to beneficiaries has made us realise that we need to run a blended course with both components of online and offline instruction so we are changing the mode of instruction.

HOW IS YOUR IDEA UNIQUE?

User driven Approach:
Our solution is focused around the user. Most of the ideas out there in similar domain are mostly just market driven but we are trying to create a balance in which we not only see the demand for the digital skills in the global market but also try to understand the needs, abilities and circumstances of our users/beneficiaries so we can create a solution that is very user focused.

Market Knowledge & Partnerships:
We have the benefit that we are not just trying to create a skills training program (we know many out there have tried similar things already). Our goal is to create a complete end-to-end solution in which not only do we train the young people but also offer the pool of trained freelancers to companies around the world for impact talent sourcing. Thus guaranteeing them jobs!

One of the advantages we have is that we are doing this project as a partnership between Emerging Leaders Foundation (ELF) and School of Skills (SOS) and that gives us knowledge, experience of the geographic location, the people as well as the digital ecosystem and markets.

WHY DO YOU THINK THAT THE PROBLEM YOUR IDEA SOLVES FOR HAS NOT BEEN SOLVED?

Lets be honest - Digital skills training is not something entirely new. Bigger organization like Rockeffler Foundation and Google have taken a jab at providing digital learning programs for the youth of Africa.

However, such programs, miss out on the fact that teaching digital skills to the youth is just half of the solution and the other half is about creating an opportunity for the youth in form of connections to the global market and building their capacity by teaching them other skills like soft skills and business skills to make them capable enough to find jobs and become online entrepreneurs.

WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR UNANSWERED QUESTIONS ABOUT THIS IDEA?

Going forward, we are curious to explore the following questions:

How fast the youth will be able to learn the skills through the program and also what kind and level of digital skills become more popular for the Kenyan youth as compared to other?

Also we are thinking what would be global market’s response to this.

Because of IT boom in South Asia, young freelancers in Pakistan, India and Bangladesh have predominantly owned the global digital services market for over a few decades with almost 5-10 million freelance providers. Therefore we are curious to see the reaction of global sources towards East Africa youth in the digital marketplace since this is something new for them.

IS THIS IDEA NEW FOR YOU OR YOUR ORGANIZATION?

EmpowerX is a collaboration between Saad Hamid of School of Skills in Pakistan and Caren Wakoli of Emerging Leaders Foundation in Kenya.

Saad has been working in this domain for over a decade trying to understand the role of internet in helping youth become a part of the digital economy. Saad himself is one of the top freelancers from Pakistan and has previous served as the Country Representative for Upwork in Pakistan so he understands the domain more than anyone else and has built a reputation over time training as many as 5,000+ freelancers. Based on his contributions and validations, the same idea was adopted in form of ‘E-rozgaar’ by the Punjab Government and ‘Youth Employment Program’ by the KP Government.

While the idea has been tested in Pakistan already, Kenya is a whole new market which will come with its own challenges and opportunities so we hope to explore that with support from Emerging Leaders Foundation.

WHO WILL IMPLEMENT THIS IDEA?

EmpowerX is a collaboration between Saad Hamid of School of Skills in Pakistan and Caren Wakoli of Emerging Leaders Foundation in Kenya. Being Acumen fellows - they share common values and vision.

For this project, School of Skills will be responsible for developing the curriculum, the online platform and delivering the trainings to the participants while Emerging Leaders Foundations will act as the field partner providing on-ground support and interaction with beneficiaries.

The opportunity

Similar to Pakistan, Kenya’s youth bulge is a ‘ticking time bomb’ with over 80% of unemployed Kenyans below 35 years of age and while the government is unable to meet the needs of creating jobs, we see there is an opportunity to engage youth and have them learn digital skills that will connect them to the global market and make them active contributors to the Kenyan digital economy

The idea of EmpowerX is based on the concept that with increasing digital economy around the world, there is an increase in the demand of digital skills and therefore we are training the youth in these skills so they are able to connect with the international online job market.

The model has been very successful in South Asia and therefore we want to use the same model and apply it in Kenya to make the youth active contributors to the digital economy.

The idea

Image title

Our theory of change is to empower the youth through digital skills and entrepreneurship and we are doing that by training them in 3 major areas such as (1) soft skills (2) digital skills and (3) business skills

Soft skills are skills that are needed by employers such as good communication, decision making, showing commitment, time management, creativity, leadership and problem solving.

Digital skills are the skills of the future that give the youth competitive edge such as learning how to build a website, designing, data analysis, virtual assistance, content writing, digital marketing etc.

Business skills are the skills required to launch a business such as entrepreneurship, freelancing, team management, project management, marketing, finance, legal etc.

The outcome of the program is to create empowered individuals who are active contributors to the digital economy either as freelancers or business starters.

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The collaboration

The pilot will be implemented by Emerging Leaders Foundation in Nairobi with operational expertise and support from School of Skills.

Saad Hamid is the founder of School of Skills and a digital ecosystem builder from Pakistan who specializes in creating programs that create opportunities for the youth and help them become active contributors to the digital economy. He’s previously been affiliated with Upwork, the world’s largest freelancing platform as their Country Representative for Pakistan. The e-skills program developed by Saad have been endorsed by the World Bank and adopted by Pakistan’s provincial governments in Punjab and KP. He is an Acumen Fellow, TED-Ed fellow and a Google Developer Expert. Saad has also worked with IDEO.org as the Global Facilitator for Amplify Challenges.

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Caren Wakoli is an emerging leader in East Africa who has launched a foundation to support the next generation of leaders for Africa. She’s currently serving as the founder of Emerging Leaders Foundation which operates in Kenya and has trained as many as 6,000 youth on mentorship and leadership.

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Saad and Caren are both part of the Acumen Fellows community!

The success

We have seen how this program has done wonders for the youth in Pakistan and we think we have a great opportunity here to replicate the success in Nairobi which has a growing youth population and digital economy just like Pakistan.

Here we want to take the opportunity to introduce you to Kashif who has gladly agreed to share his story with you.

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SHARE ONE SENTENCE ABOUT THE IMPACT YOU WOULD LIKE THIS PROJECT TO HAVE FIVE YEARS FROM NOW, AND ONE QUESTION YOU NEED TO ANSWER TO GET THERE.

Our hope is to see a domino effect with this project which will create a whole new generation of online entrepreneurs in Kenya who will be active contributors to the digital economy, not just as freelancers, but as entrepreneurs. Similar to how this project turned out in Pakistan, we hope to see that these entrepreneurs in Kenya will become the backbone of IT industry of Kenya by creating opportunity for the youth in terms of jobs and employment.

MY ORGANIZATION'S OPERATING BUDGET FOR 2015 WAS:

  • Under $100,000

MY INTENDED BENEFICIARIES ARE:

  • Within 50 km of where our team does most of its work

HOW LONG HAVE YOU AND YOUR COLLEAGUES BEEN WORKING ON THIS PILOT PROJECT TOGETHER?

  • Less than 6 months

WHY ARE YOU INTERESTED IN JOINING AMPLIFY'S PORTFOLIO OF INNOVATORS?

We see this a great opportunity to connect with the Amplify network to further build knowledge and partnerships in this domain where international development practitioners are coming together to use human centered design for social impact. Also, we see this a window of opportunity to experiment and find out whether one idea that has been successfully tested in one part of the world can be replicated in another part of the world.

Attachments (1)

EmpowerX User Experience Map.pdf

Here's a visualisation of how the youth discovers us and how we take them through the training cycle eventually helping them find jobs.

This inspired (1)

Go Nativo

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Team

How could you inspire the youth? How can you insure the parent of that child that this is safe path to study? It seems like a very interesting idea.

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